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Follow the bouncing ball

Bruce Burton is a table tennis jury member at this summer's Olympics.

Faculty member heading to Beijing Olympics


by Heidi Wicks

Bruce Burton, Faculty of Education, is one of only six official jury members worldwide who will serve on the panel for table tennis in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Summer Games.

“The sport isn’t covered very widely in the media here in North America,” Mr. Burton said, “but worldwide it ranks second only to soccer in popularity. The sport’s strongest players come from China, but Sweden has some very strong players as well, as do other European countries.”

Mr. Burton recently returned from the World Table Tennis Team Championships in Guangzhou, China. He’s been involved in the sport since he was a university student, where he played on the team. Since then he’s gone from being the provincial president, chairman of the National Junior Championships organizing committee, member of the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) Olympic Committee, and the Canadian first delegate at the World Championships and Commonwealth Championships.

He’s ecstatic to be heading to Beijing this summer, his second run as the jury member for North America – he also held that position in the 2000 Sydney games. The other five Jury Members represent Asia, Europe, Africa, Oceania and Latin America.

What exactly does a jury member do?

“By the charter of Olympic sport, it’s required to have a jury present that is the final court of appeal for any disputes that arise throughout the competition,” Mr. Burton explained. “Typically, things run smoothly and for the jury to be required to act when a decision is required by the jury, it’s usually something pretty serious.”

He dispels that he doesn’t anticipate any disputes this year, at least at the moment.

“Most of the major decisions begin before the games start,” he said, “and my mandate only begins once the games start. The other thing is that at the game you have the top officials and referees in the world, so if it reaches the jury, it’s pretty severe!”

Table tennis was admitted to the Olympics in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Mr. Burton said the highlight of being at the most exciting event of the sports world is the sheer grandness and hype surrounding the event.

“It goes way beyond the stadiums where the events take place,” he exuded. “It permeates the entire city.” And the world.
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