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international women's day: the officials line - jeanne coker 

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Jeanne Coker


14 March 2019 

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March every year and is a focal point in the movement of women’s rights.  This year’s campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world. 

Athletics prides itself on being a gender balanced sport and our officials play a major part in achieving this, where currently there are 59% male and 41% female officials in the UK.  In support of International Women’s Day 2019, throughout March, we will feature Officials across the UK to celebrate them and their commitment to athletics.  


Jeanne Coker 

What is your role as an official?
Track Judge level 4; Photofinish Judge level 4; Field Judge level 2; Endurance level 4.

I work at any event – school relays in the local park – club competitions at any and every competition – county, area and national events. Small and large road events.

How long have you been officiating?
Almost 50 years.

What inspired you to become an official?
I was probably reaching the end of my competing as part of the club team and there were exciting developments on the horizon for women’s athletics. The formation of a women’s veterans (now called masters) athletics club which a group of us formulated from the judge’s stand. The prospect of women’s road racing and the amalgamation of men’s and women’s athletics at all levels.

Vera Searle was the motivator. She was an official in my county and encouraged me (and others) to become an official.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into officiating?
Come and try it!  See which bit you like best. If the person is an athlete I would suggest they start with their own discipline.

What has been the highlight of your officiating career?
Being a track official at the Paralympic Games London 2012.

What can we do as a sport to achieve a #BetterBalance in officiating?
Get to know the young people in your club. Ask them to join you in judging for part of a meeting, or for one event.

If people are lacking confidence suggest they work in pairs. Introduce them to other appropriate officials. Keep in touch e.g. at evening training sessions.


 Find out more about International Women's Day here

If you want to get involved in officiating, find out more information here