6th May 2022



Track and endurance official Level 4

Pam Brown [third from left]

Do you have an athletics background?

I was a middle distance and cross-country athlete and I competed for Ballymena and Antrim AC, Northern Ireland and, also, Lancashire as I grew up in Oldham and ran for Bury AC.

When I gave up competing at that level, I got involved in lots of things with Northern Ireland Athletics, mainly because so few women stay on, especially at that time. I was involved in committee work, I was a team manager, I was a coach; so I covered a bit of everything. I enjoyed it but it did take up a lot of time.

I had to make a decision to cut back on something and I decided to drop the coaching. Coaching is a huge commitment; it has big demands. The officiating is more flexible – you can do as much or as little as you want.


Where are you in your officiating journey? (Level/discipline)

I started officiating in the early 1980s. I was watching one day at the track, and someone said, “come and help”! I would never have thought I’d have achieved as much from that day. Because I had been a track athlete I started volunteering at the track.

I began taking the exams. Then after a few years there was a big push by the British Board (now UKA) to get the Northern Irish officials more qualified so they could officiate across the water. I was asked to go forward for the track role which I did, and I progressed from there. In 1997 I became a referee which is a level 4 track official. It was a very daunting as we had to be assessed in a meeting on the mainland which was like being dropped into another world compared to Northern Ireland.

I will never forget being at the Southern Counties event being assessed and Linford Christie was running. He asked me if he could withdraw from one of the sprint finals to concentrate on the other which, of course, is not allowed. I did wonder if it was a set-up to see how I handled it! But I passed.

I went onto the list of UK officials, and I was usually selected one indoor and one outdoor per year. It was a wonderful time. I became the officials’ secretary for Northern Ireland and I was able to make lots of links to help others in Northern Ireland get qualified. UKA were very good at supporting this and funding officials going to meetings to get experience before they were assessed.

I have been very fortunate and have just been selected for my fifth Commonwealth Games where I will be Video Room Manager. In 2014 in Glasgow I was on the Jury of Appeal. Before that I was in Canada in 1994, Malaysia in 1998 and Manchester in 2002.

I have also officiated at the World Championships in 2017 in London and in London 2012 I was Track Team Leader.

In recent times I have also passed the Competition Management Award so I have tended to work on that side of things leaving the track officiating to younger people. It is important to give them responsibility so they can work their way up. So I have tended to do the admin or management roles.

I have been a National Technical Delegate, Call Room Referee, and a Meeting Manager.

I am also an endurance level four for cross country and road. I was the women’s referee at the World Half Marathon in Cardiff.


What do you love most about officiating?

The friendships I have made are definitely something that has been important to me. The sense of contributing to athletics from the inside and not just being an onlooker has been rewarding.

Also, the satisfaction of seeing and supporting fair competition and helping athletes achieve their full potential.

I love that we are involved with people of all ages.


Favourite moment as an official?

I guess it has to be the Olympic Games in London in 2012 on ‘Super Saturday’. I have never known such noise or such an amazing atmosphere in a stadium than that evening. I was umpiring on the back straight when Mo (Farah) won the 10,000m. Because I was a track official, I had to keep my eyes firmly on the track. I had to watch all the athletes still coming round to ensure there were no infringements and not watch him on his final 200m which was agonising.


What are your ambitions in officiating?

The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham was a target, so I feel very fortunate and delighted to be going there. Realistically I am reaching the end of my officiating journey.

But I would like to see our officials in Northern Ireland doing well and coming through. I am delighted that there will be seven in Birmingham at the Commonwealths.


What would you tell others who are thinking of becoming an official?

The time commitment is there but it is flexible and you can put as much or as little as you like into it.

It’s the start of a journey and you never know where it’ll take you. I certainly didn’t know where it would take me, and it has been incredible and amazing in terms of what athletics officiating has given me.

It has given me friendships; some of which have had a huge impact on my life.


Describe what officiating means to you in 3 words

  • Rewarding
  • Energising
  • Friendship