The first Welsh Technical Official to be chosen to officiate at the Youth Commonwealth Games!
Eleanor Preece, or Ellie as most the Welsh triathlon community know her, completed her first triathlon in 2016, with activity in the lead up to this decision stemming from a personal crisis, starting with regular walks as a pick-me-up to finding her love for swimming again and a new found love and respect for cycling. After moving to Cardiff, when her job moved to Bristol, she joined a local running club with a small contingent of people who enjoyed and wanted to partake in multisport. That’s when her interest in triathlon sparked. Her journey developed from there. She became a swimming coach not long after that, working with City of Newport Swimming club then post-COVID, when clubs began returning to activity, Ellie did her coaching qualifications and can often be found pool side with Cardiff Triathletes, if not in the grey on the field of play at a wide-range of events in the UK.
In 2017, Ellie saw a tweet from one of our longest serving Technical Officials, Tom Roberts, advertising that he was running a course and would anyone be interested. Ellie thought to herself ‘yeah that’s something that interests me’. She says “and needless to say, it’s just gone from there. Just seeing this one tweet saying ‘would you be interested in becoming a technical official’ to all of a sudden heading out to the Caribbean.”
When asked how it felt to be chosen to officiate the Youth Commonwealth Games, Ellie said she was shocked and really humbled. Even to have her application considered and knowing that they saw merit in her performance and ability to officiate on a major world stage. She exclaims how she takes great pride in being able to represent her country at something. She now feels as if she needs to ‘pull something out of the bag’ to be remembered, not just for being herself but for being Welsh. She feels she needs to show how hospitable we are as a culture. But also to represent Great Britain and say ‘come and race in our country’.
Ellie explains that she believes one of the biggest differences between officiating in the Youth Commonwealth in Trinidad and Tobago compared to the UK will be the cultural differences. She says this is something that is really going to interest her. There are obviously words and phrases that we use here that won’t get used there, and the connotations of phrases but mindful they too will have their own ways of communicating. And there are technical officials that have been appointed from places such as New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, local officials from the Caribbean as well as Ellie and James (from Triathlon Scotland) that are the British contingent. The other challenge will be working with young athletes, who this could be their first experience of being on a major World stage. The participants at the Youth Commonwealth Games are born between 2006 and 2008 and whilst Ellie doesn’t often work with this age-group not least those who have got aptitude to represent their countries and potential to be selected at major games in the future.
But she is really looking forward to the exciting new experience in entirety. She says she will be conferring with Tom Roberts and Phil Kethro, on the rules and tech committee, for some advice and support. She explains how Tom has worked at major games so he will be able to provide her with a kind of steer as to what to expect when you’re working at that level and Phil has experience in the role she has been assigned at World Triathlon level. No matter what stage of your officiating pathway there is a range of support from everyone all over the UK.
One thing Ellie really wants to achieve from the experience is showing that there is a pathway for other women from Wales.
She ends by saying “just because you’re not a great athlete, it doesn’t mean that triathlon isn’t for you. There are many other roles that you can undertake.” And she is a prime example of just that.
Congratulations to Ellie! We’re looking forward to hearing all about her experience in Trinidad and Tobago.