When we think of pole vaulting in Australia, we think of one of our most successful events and its significant hub in Perth. On the runway are the nervous athletes, while leaning over the fence are the coaches on their iPads, giving the athletes feedback. But this scene would not happen if not for our volunteer officials.
Marion Buchanan is one of those people who ensure our athletes can reach their dreams and goals, officiating at competitions in Perth, around Australia and even overseas.
Like many officials, Buchanan became involved in officiating through her children. “My journey as a volunteer official at athletics started in 1994, when I took my daughter Jacqui to Kingsway Little Athletics Centre in Perth,” recalled Buchanan.
“With an personal interest in athletics, which started as a very young girl in Ballarat (VIC), I was keen to introduce her to the sport I had loved for a long time.”
“My love of athletics was sparked by my primary school teacher, who was a professional runner. Through his encouragement I trained hard and won awards as both a junior and senior athlete.”
Buchanan continued to pursue athletics into high school, joining her local club - the Wendouree Women’s Athletics Club. After leaving school she played tennis and squash, and her career took priority as she maintained her fitness jogging around Albert Park Lake in Melbourne.
She married in 1987 and moved to Perth, where she started a family and became involved in Little Athletics with her daughter. “Never one to sit on the fence, I immediately joined in as a parent. When at the age of 12 my daughter started race walking seriously, I decided to also take part in the Athletics WA Senior competition.”
“Officiating locally in Perth was not enough to satisfy a new interest for me, so I commenced my education as an official. I first travelled to an AA event in the year 2000, where I was recorder for the walk events out of stadia.”
Having experienced an Australian championship event, Buchanan realised there was a growing need for new officials in Australia. This realisation has spurred her ever since to encourage, develop and recruit officials.
“I have worked as an Officials coordinator for both AWA and LAWA, and over the years I have recruited and helped in the training, development and education of volunteers in Western Australia. I am proud to say that out of the 11 appointed officials from Perth at the Commonwealth Games, I recruited a number of them, along with several sports specific volunteers.”
Over the last two decades Buchanan has made a significant commitment to officiating. “Since the year 2000, I have officiated every year for AA in both field and race walking events, and I hold accreditation in track, technical, throws, jumps and walks.”
“For the last 12 years I have been a Level 2 IAAF walk judge, and have also been on the Oceania Area panel for a number of years.” If this wasn’t enough, Buchanan is on the WMA race walk judges panel, which earlier this year saw her travel to Spain for the Masters World Championships.
At the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games she officiated in the walks and field events. “Australians do so well at pole vault and high jump, so I consider myself very privileged to officiate these events. It was also very special to work with such a great family of officials.”
Buchanan has retired early from her own successful business, enabling her to officiate overseas too. “I have been fortunate enough to officiate at four World Masters Championships in Perth, Lyon, Daegu and Malaga (Spain).”
The grandmother of three has a busy family life and active role with her children and grandchildren, and also enjoys bike riding, gardening and reading.
Have you considered officiating? Your local members association can assist, and you can read more about their role
David Tarbotton for Athletics Australia