In a career milestone, prominent Canadian rowing umpire Ken Campbell has been elected to the umpire jury for the Paris 2024 Olympic rowing competition. This achievement marks a significant moment in Campbell’s decades-long dedication to the sport, with the announcement bringing both pride and fulfilment to the seasoned umpire.
“Oh, it’s nice. You know, it’s humbling, very humbling and very, I don’t know what the correct word is, I still don’t know if I believe it. It has always been a goal,” Campbell expressed his gratitude. “As a kid, like everybody all around the world, I always wanted to and you always dream about going to the Olympics. Usually as an athlete, but when I got into the role of an umpire, and then umpiring at the Olympics or Paralympics, that became my goal. So, it’s very fulfilling.”
The selection process for the Olympic umpire juries is rigorous, with only 20 spots available to the nearly 500 World Rowing umpires worldwide. Campbell shed light on the process, explaining, “You select the events that you wish to go to. You submit that to Rowing Canada Aviron, there’s a subcommittee of the Umpires Committee at Rowing Canada Aviron that goes through all the applications, and then they submit candidates to World Rowing, and then World Rowing does the final selections.”
For equality, umpires may only represent their nation at a sole Games, making Ken’s selection all the more rewarding and what is sure to be another milestone in his 40-year career. Having obtained his license in the early 80s and his international umpire license in 1992, Campbell’s journey in rowing spans several decades. His involvement in the sport began by following his brother to the famed St. Catharine’s Rowing Club, filling in as coxswain, before rowing himself during his high school years, later evolving into coaching and administration. Campbell’s dedication to rowing umpiring has not only offered him a unique perspective but has also allowed him to contribute significantly to the sport’s growth.
Reflecting on his role as an umpire, Campbell shared, “You meet people from all around the country and it is a great way of giving back to the sport. If you don’t have time to be actively rowing or coaching, it’s also probably one of the best ways to stay involved. Plus, you’ve got the best seat in the house for watching racing.”
Looking ahead to the Paris 2024 Olympics, Campbell expressed his excitement.
“I’m going to be heading into the regatta with my eyes wide open. And just taking it all in,” Campbell shared. “I’ve been to three World Championships and they’re always, wow, this is pretty cool. But this, this is the show, I tell myself ‘You’re going to the big show’.”
It is set to be a busy 2024 Summer for Campbell, in addition to his Olympic duties, Campbell is set to chair the regatta for the 2024 World Rowing Championships in St. Catharines, making for a hectic but fulfilling summer. With his experience and dedication, Ken Campbell continues to be an inspiring figure for aspiring rowing umpires, demonstrating that hard work and passion can lead to extraordinary opportunities in the world of rowing officiating.