He has been one of the more recognizable faces at Ottawa area track meets for more than a decade. You’ll usually find him over at the high jump and sometimes on the long jump runway. However, this Saturday night at the Chelsea Hotel in downtown Toronto, you’ll find Rick Watkins on centre stage receiving his award for Official of the Year in Ontario.
This past year has been a rather busy one for Watkins as he took on the role of officials coordinator for this past summer’s Canadian Track and Field Championships and Panamerican Combined Events Cup here in Ottawa. It’s no easy task coordinating more than 60 officials from multiple provinces to officiate over six long days of competition, but Watkins handled it all with grace and composure.
Of course his role as coordinator did not preclude him from lending a helping hand through the championship in his more familiar role as high jump official. This is a role Watkins came into more than a decade ago spurred by the success of his son in the same event. His son Derek is a former Canadian champion in the event, representing Canada on multiple occasions internationally and sits third in the Lions all-time rankings.
In addition to his hard work on the delivery of the Canadian Championships, evidence of his dedication to the sport and the local athletes can be seen at the indoor competitions at the Louis Riel Dome in the winter and his week in and week out appearances at our Summer Twilight Series. Even still the 74 year old retiree even makes an effort to help out at the local high school meets to ensure they too have the proper setup to compete to their best.
We’ve known what a special and important individual Rick Watkins is to the sport for quite some time, and we could not be more proud to see him be rightfully honoured for his success at the provincial level.