Cape’s greats officiates at Tokyo Olympics
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Cape Town - If you want to talk about the best of the best representing South Africa at the Tokyo Olympics, then its school principal, Dr Kevin du Plooy who is one of the technical officials for weightlifting.
Du Plooy, 62, of Kuils River, serves on the executive board of the Western Province Weightlifting Association, and nationally he is the president of the South African Weightlifting Federation. Internationally, he serves on the executive board of the Commonwealth Weightlifting Federation, as well as the Weightlifting Federation of Africa.
He has also taken part in previous international sports events, and was the category two International referee in Tunis and in Morocco.
But it is the first time that Du Plooy is officiating at the Olympics, taking place in Tokyo.
Here, he has witnessed extreme discipline for sports and thorough protocols where Covid-19 regulations are done.
When he is not taking part in sports, Du Plooy is at his post as the school principal of Symphony Primary School in Belhar.
Du Plooy also serves on the church council of the Calvyn Protestant Church in Sarepta as an elder, and was the coach of the athletics team of Western Province (WP) Primary Schools Sports Board.
He is a dad of two and is married to Gardencia Dryden, 59.
He also established his own weightlifting club, Kuils River Weightlifting Club which was founded in 1998.
“I started the sport of weightlifting way back in 1970.
“As a youngster growing up, I was always involved in sport, athletics, soccer and volleyball. Through all of this I did weightlifting. In the beginning years, we were isolated, and participation for the best was limited to national championships,” he said.
Du Plooy received his Doctorate in Education in 2016.
“As a weightlifter myself, I belonged to the then Kuils River Weightlifting and Physical Culture Club.
“I was coached by the late David Weber and the national coach, Alan Plaatjies, and much later, by Johnny Geduld.
“In 1998, I established my own weightlifting club, Kuils River Weightlifting Club, where I am coaching at the moment.
“Since then the club has produced a number of provincial, national, continental and Commonwealth Champions,” he said.
He does not shy away from hard work, which has led to all of his successes, both internationally and nationally, and recalls during the apartheid years how South Africans were deprived the privilege of being part of prestigious events.
“In 2004, I qualified as a category two International referee in Tunis, and in 2006 as a category one International referee in Morocco. You must remember, that due to us being isolated from international participation for 22 years, we have lost a great deal, in terms of participation and officiating.
“We have only been re-admitted in 1991 after unification of the South African Weightlifting, Bodybuilding and Power lifting Federation with the South African Weightlifting Union. This amalgamated body is today known as the South African Weightlifting Federation.
“At national level I am involved with the training of technical officials,” he said.
It all began in 2004 when he started officiating local, and later international games.
“Since then I have officiated at a number of continental championships, Commonwealth Championships, Africa and Commonwealth Games and now the Olympic Games,” he said.
This, he believes prepared him for the Olympics, which has intense and extreme discipline, which can be admired.
“Japan is known for its precision and discipline. These particular Olympic Games are unprecedented.
“Never in the past have countries had to prepare under such severe circumstances. The only time when the Olympic Games were cancelled was during the world wars, thereafter never.
“These particular games were just postponed, but never cancelled, because the responsibility of the International Committee is to organise the Games, and not to cancel them.
“By now it is a well known fact that everybody concerned had to cope with the circumstances around the novel Coronavirus, and protocols have to be followed to ensure the safety of everybody attending the Games.
“Arriving in Tokyo all visitors had to be tested for the Coronavirus after being tested twice in their respective countries, before departing to Tokyo.
“Temperatures were taken, and if higher than the required standard, you would be refused entry into the country.
“PCR tests were taken on a daily basis. We have to record any symptoms, as well as our body temperatures, on a daily basis on an app known as OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
“This app records if you were in close contact with people carrying the virus. If positive, you should report, and also, you are allowed to share the app with family and friends so that everybody can be in the know of your status.
“I am humbled by this experience. As a technical official, and serving on the jury in particular, is a very responsible portfolio because you have the power to turn a good lift to a bad lift, and in doing so, you can either set the athlete up for financial gain or ruin,” he said.
His wife, Dryden, said she admired her husband for his dedication: “He has always encouraged sports at school and believes in the importance of sports.”
Being the first African woman who is the deputy referee at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for table tennis, Genevieve Lentz from Monte Vista is living a dream come true.
“I arrived on July 23, 2021. I am happy to be here right now, and would not give up this monumental moment in history for anything in the world right now.
“Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, we cannot tour on our off days or off time, so I would be at the venue every day.
“I enjoy Japan, I was here before in 2009 for the World Table Tennis Championships and in 2019, I was here for the World Team Cup. On both occasions I got to see a bit of Japan.
“The experience as referee has been phenomenal. Each member of the referee team brings something unique to the team and we've been working well alongside the umpires.
“I think the treasured moment at the end of each day is religiously receiving encouraging voice notes from my family and friends.
“The most special voice note being my six-year-old nephew Calum Noah Sparks - I listen to his voice note again each night before I go to sleep,” she said.