Sport

Kym's keeping an eye on the judges

QUEENSLANDER Kym Dowdell is determined to perform well in women's gymnastics in London.

Not as an athlete, but as one of the highest-ranked officials on duty at the Games.

The Brisbane resident has judged at every Olympics since Seoul in 1988, as well as the past four Commonwealth Games and World Championships.

But this time she'll be keeping her eyes fixed, not on the gymnasts, but on those judging them. The coaches will also come under her close scrutiny because big brother is watching their every move.

Dowdell, the Gymnastics Queensland chief executive, is one of the highest-ranking judges in the world and a member of an international committee responsible for all women's gymnastics competitions.

Her brief this Olympics is to make sure everything is as it should be ... or else. Just look at what happened to two international judges last month.

The pair was banned from officiating in the Olympics by a disciplinary panel investigating mistakes made during the women's event at the last World Championships in Tokyo in October.

The International Gymnastics Federation did not identify the judges or the event in which the errors occurred, saying only that the judges had been found "guilty of negligence in the line of duty". Dowdell, who travels overseas for gymnastics up to seven times a year, said every judge and official must obey the federation's disciplinary code, which requires them to abide by all rules and prohibits "anti-sporting behaviour".

"Judges certainly cannot be seen to favour their home country gymnasts, that's a huge no-no," said Dowdell who, as gymnastics manager for the 2000 Olympics, had to move to Sydney for three years while she organised everything from the venue and equipment to the volunteers and the judges.

"I'd love nothing more than to see Australia break its drought and win a gold medal at these Games, but I'd never consider doing anything that would be seen to be influencing it - there is no room for bias at all."

But does Dowdell, who was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to gymnastics in 2007, think Australia will triumph in London, given world champion Lauren Mitchell is in the line-up?

"That's a tough one," she said. "I'd say we are closer to doing that (winning gold) than we have ever been, but ... it all depends what happens on the day. I'd love it to be our time and to be there and see it happen ... it would be a dream come true."

Topics:  london olympics




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