Indian badminton umpire Dathan on way to realise Olympic dream

NEW DELHI, Jul 20: International umpire Fine C Dathan will be the lone Indian among a 26-member panel of umpires officiating at the Tokyo Olympics badminton competition.

The 50-year-old Dathan from Thiruvananthapuram will be leaving for the Japanese capital on Tuesday night after completing all the procedures related to the COVID-19 protocols.

Four Indians, including Rio Games silver medallist P V Sindhu, will be participating in the badminton competition that gets underway on July 24.

“It is a first Olympics for me and such opportunities come once in a lifetime,” Dathan, an associate professor at the department of physical education, Government Ayurveda College, Trivandrum, told PTI.

Dathan, a member of the Elite Panel of umpires of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), had to skip a few tournaments this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but said it won’t be a problem as he has the experience of officiating in all major events.

“I was nominated two years ago but then there was this pandemic and also I couldn’t go to the pre-Olympics events in Thailand because of COVID restrictions,” said the Indian, who last officiated in Japan Super 750 event in 2019.

“But that won’t be an issue, I am confident of doing my job properly. I am thanksful to BWF for acknowledging my performances in the previous tournaments and selecting me.”

Dathan has an excellent past record, having umpired in almost all major badminton tournaments, including the World Championships, Commonwealth Games, and Thomas and Uber Cup.

“BWF has a certification process where we are rated continuously depending on our performances. There are 50 BWF certificated umpires and 26 has been nominated, one from 26 countries.”

Another Indian official, Vinay Joshi from Maharashtra, also was selected as part of the panel of line judge for the Olympics.

Joshi, who has already reached Tokyo, will be one of the 20 line judges selected for the Olympics.

The 57-year-old Joshi has officiated at all major tournaments in the world as a member of the BWF’s Panel of International Line Judges.

The Pune-based Joshi started his career in 1997 as a state umpire and then became a Grade I umpire in 2008 during the Senior Nationals at Indore.

Joshi has the experience of officiating in the 2010 and 2014 CWG, 2014 and 2018 Asian Games, 2009 and 2014 World Championships, 2014 Thomas and Uber Cup, Sudirman Cup in 2011, 2013 and 2017, besides many other events.  (PTI)