GLOBAL ASPIRATION: Genevieve Lentz, from Bonteheuwel, is the first African woman to become an International Table Tennis Federation referee.Picture: David Ritchie/ANA
Cape Town - She is not only the first female table tennis umpire in Africa to participate in the Olympics, but Genevieve Lentz is also the only African female International Table Tennis Federation referee.

For more than a decade, Lentz has been handling matches and, in her pursuit to improve herself, she recently qualified as an international referee, a dream many umpires have.

“I wasn’t generally a good player. Even though I played league and socially, I would always end up umpiring. I found that officiating was my calling,” she said.

Lentz said the role comes with responsibility and one needed to be alert and sharp while on the court.

She was selected to be an umpire in a number of games internationally, including the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing and the 2012 London Olympics.

“If someone had told me I was going to the Olympics when I started out, I would have told them they are really crazy,” she said.

Lentz, who was born and raised in Bonteheuwel, said she believed everyone was responsible for their lives and careers.

Chairperson of Table Tennis Western Province Gregory Naik said: “It was an honour and inspiration to work with her, she has represented us well.

“Our community is only known for violence and gangsterism and she has changed that. We are proud of her.”

On Wednesday, Lentz arrived home from Egypt with the title of International Referee in Table Tennis.

“With this milestone comes responsibility, I am looking forward to more opportunities,” she said.

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Cape Argus