How Kym judged her way to creating an Olympic legacy
As new-year celebrations swept through Sydney to mark the beginning of 2000, the country waited in anticipation for an event which would forever leave a last legacy for the city and for all those involved - the Olympic Games of the 27th Olympiad.
Despite her pre-existing prowess among the international judging ranks, a home Olympic Games was an event that long-time gymnastics judge, Kym Dowdell had never experienced and one that was met with much excitement and anticipation.
“I applied for the Competition Manager for Gymnastics in 1995 and was appointed in 1996.
“I was then elected to the FIG (Federation International Gymnastics) Women’s Technical Committee (WTC) in 1996 and took up the position in January 1997.”
Managing the event for SOCOG (Sydney Organising Committee Olympic Games) and officiating for the FIG, Kym’s role had its own difficulties but it’s a role that she reflects on fondly.
“I was extremely excited to accept the challenge of managing an Olympic Games in my own country.
“It was the first time a person from the southern hemisphere had been elected to an international technical authority,” Kym noted.
For many around Australia, the Sydney games were like no other; two weeks filled with joy, excitement and incredible memories, many of which are still spoken about some 20 years later.
However, for those, like Kym, who were directly involved in the delivery of the games, from judges, medical staff, the overwhelming success was a result of the determination and commitment by many.
“It gave our gymnastics community an opportunity that would not come again in their lifetime.
“It also provided the chance for many Australian judges to serve as Olympic technical officials,” Kym continued.
As September approached, the excitement and anticipation within the gymnastics community grew following the performances by Australia’s Women’s Artistic Gymnastics team and the introduction of Trampoline Gymnastics to the competition.
“Our WAG athletes were performing at a very high level and our community were ready for the next challenge after hosting several international competitions, including a World Championships.
“The introduction of Trampoline was rewarding, it was great to work with the International Authority of Trampoline to conduct the first Olympic Trampoline competition.”
Being part of an Olympic on home soil as well as being there when Australia won its first-ever gymnastics medal, Kim still recounts her favourite memories from the 27th Olympiad, as being “the pride of gymnastics staff and volunteers”, along with the “enthusiasm of Aussies” and “the look of the precinct and venue once it was completed”.
As Kym now looks ahead to Tokyo, her 9th Olympic Games, she reflects on her career in the sport that has played such a pivotal role in her life.
“The judging of Olympic Games and being a member of the FIG Technical Authority has allowed me to travel the world while working with the very best athletes in our sport,” Kym indicated.
“The opportunity to work and educate coaches, judges and athletes of developing nations has been extremely rewarding and is something I will forever be grateful for.”