OFFICIAL’S WHISTLE – Let’s meet David Turner

Michaela Bencova continues her tour of the famous figures who sit on the closest chair from the court – the umpires who will be participating in the London 2012 Olympics. […]

Michaela Bencova continues her tour of the famous figures who sit on the closest chair from the court – the umpires who will be participating in the London 2012 Olympics. This month, she meets with David Turner, 53 year old umpire from Australia.

Photos: rights reserved

How long have you been umpiring?

Internationally from 2001.  Within Australia from 1985.

How did you start with badminton?

My parents both played badminton, winning a national mixed doubles title together in the 1960s.   I played badminton for my state then senior badminton and made national squads.  Then I became a coach and an umpire in the 1980s.

In countries like China, Malaysia, and England, when we say badminton, people know what it is. How popular or known is badminton in your country?

Badminton is a very small sport in Australia with very few players.  We have some players competing on the international curcuit but we are not very competitive.

If somebody wants to be umpire in your country, what is the procedure?

In Australia we have a very well-structured career path for umpiring.  We have  courses at club level through to Confederation level.  Umpires need to officiate at tournaments, sit written exams at each level and are assessed regularly to maintain our standard.

We are talking about professional players, professional coaches, but umpires are only recruited amongst volunteers. So how is it with finances in your country if you want to travel for tournaments?

For all local tournaments and for tournaments throughout Australia  I have to pay my own expenses.  I sometimes receive some accommodation but have to pay airfare and costs.  I receive some support for overseas tournaments but unless it is BWF, I have to pay some costs!

When not a professional umpire, what is your job?

I am a music teacher.  My music commitments are very many and demanding so I have a minimal time for my badminton.

What are your hobbies apart from badminton?

Badminton is a hobby.  I also play guitar, and enjoy camping and travelling when I can.

What is the funniest or the most frustrating moment you’ve experienced on court?

I was umpiring a match at a local tournament in my home town of Burnie when the player served and hit the light (low hall!) and at this exact point all the lights and the power went out in the hall!  Initially I thought it was the shuttle hitting the light but we discovered at that exact moment a car had hit a power pole in the area and the whole region had lost power.  It was also very frustrating as we did not have power for 6 hours!

Recently you were nominated to officiate at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. What does it mean for you and your family?

The Olympic nomination is by far the greatest achievement of my badminton career.  I had dreamed of having the opportunity and had been a lines judge at the Olympics in Sydney but to travel out of my country to umpire at the London Olympics is a dream come true.  My family are delighted for me and my wife will accompany me to the Games and we will follow the event with some travel through Europe.

About Michaela Bencova