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UK Athletics

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04 Septemeber 2009

Article by Cherry Alexander as seen in Athletics Weekly Magazine 

This week – as well as the traditional last UKA Major Event  fixture, the Aviva British Grand Prix taking place in Gateshead, UKA have also been hosting a number of international athletic delegates, away from the competition arena.

More than 70 officials from 30 nations across Europe have descended upon Birmingham for the European Athletics ATO (Area Technical Official) Evaluation Seminar and TOECS (Technical Official Education & Certification System) Level II course.

In short, it is one of the most important events in the athletics officials’ education calendar across the world, and as something which takes place only once every four years, is highly regarded both to participate in and to be hosting.

The week-long seminar which ends with an examination this weekend, is a high level learning and development opportunity for Europe’s top officiating talent. Although in the UK our officials specialise in various disciplines e.g. track officials, field officials and endurance officials, the ATO course requires high standards and specialised knowledge across all disciplines.

This week, UKA are well represented at this prestigious event by some of our top officiating names, with Chris Cohen, Malcolm Rogers and Peter Nicholson, all who are already ATOs,  attending the ATO evaluation seminar in order to update their skills and catch up on the recent competition rule changes and officiating matters decided by IAAF Congress.

Taking part in the TOECS element are Dean Williams and Linda Turner – who are working towards their ATO status, a qualification which will enable them to officiate at competitions in Europe and be appointed periodically to be Technical Delegates for European Grand Prix events.  Here they could be in charge of all aspects of the competition and often also have responsibility for anti doping controls and advertising.

The development opportunities do not end here however, with the ATO  tied to the IAAF ITOs (International Technical Official) system, and a highly impressive ATO qualification score can result in direct  ITO appointment. Whilst the UK has two ITOs – Keith Davies and David Littlewood - their expertise and experience have massively benefitted our other officials, athletes and major events over the years, and it is key that we work towards encouraging more of our top officials onwards and upwards to these high levels.

With 2012 on the horizon, this week is another rung on the ladder towards successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Hosting the ATO and TOECS seminars and evaluation is another string to UKA’s bow in organizing and presenting a wide range of athletics events. With the European Athletics Congress in 2011, we have a range of varying events across the board to show off our skills, and each one plays its part in preparing us for the World’s biggest sporting festival.

Although competitions will always prove the most testing element of our preparations, ensuring we host all athletics events including conferences and congress with the same degree of excellence and skill will ensure that come 2012, we are world class in our delivery of every aspect of the Games.