Couple get official recognition

Wednesday 24 October 2012 Updated: 24/10 19:40

LEAMINGTON C & AC stalwarts Les and Thelma Barnett celebrated after being honoured at the UKA Athletics West Midlands Region awards evening in Birmingham last week.

The husband and wife, who have been judging for more than 70 years between them, picked up the award for services to officiating.

During that time both have judged for Leamington C & AC, Warwickshire AA, Midland Counties AA as well as National and International levels for all age groups.

Les started judging in 1975 before he finished his running career and Thelma started holding a tape measure and her clipboard a couple of years later.

Since then they have helped at over 2,000 athletics meetings and were regulars at the major televised meetings, both indoors and outdoors in the 1980's and 90's.

They have judged at all the major stadia in the UK. Les had the honour of being the Field Referee at the AAA 100th Championship whilst Thelma's major events include the World Student Games at Sheffield and the World Grand Prix Final at Crystal Palace.

They have been privileged to take charge of events involving many World and Olympic champions including Jonathon Edwards, Carl Lewis, Steve Backley, Denise Lewis and many more of all nationalities.

Both Les and Thelma still continue their involvement with their Leamington Club at Midland League Matches throughout the area and at home Masters and Quad Kids meetings at the Edmonscote track.

Both have rarely missed judging at the annual Warwickshire AA Championships during the last 30 years and both have taken charge on a number of occasions.

Having organised courses to introduce new judges to the sport Les and Thelma have then helped and mentored them through to the higher grades of the sport with several going on to judge at the highest levels.

Thelma said: "Each year I see athletes who I first judged as youngsters a number of years ago and who are still competing and are now in the Masters age group.

"There is a level of mutal respect and friendship which makes everything worthwhile."

Les added: "I started to put something back into the sport where others had given me the chance to compete. We both hope to continue with athletics for a few more years yet."

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