SEOUL, Republic of Korea — While Nigel Davis and Tamra Mitchell glided to ice figure skating history and the floor hockey players excited the Korean public with typical Caribbean athleticism and panache, two Jamaicans quietly played their part in helping these Special Olympic Games to be a success.
Almost going unnoticed, Jamaica were represented in the floor hockey refereeing fraternity by Richard Oates and his senior mentor Victor Brown.
Yes indeed! Jamaicans have a way of filling virtually every niche, pretty much anywhere in the world.
The Jamaica Observer caught up with the two as they officiated in matches held in Gangneung and Brown, born in England but raised in Canada by Jamaican parents, said that he and Oates have been a refereeing team for approximately 12 years.
"Richard is my (former Special Olympics) athlete that has been referring with me maybe 12 years now. We first got invited to go to
Montreal (Canada) where we did two years there working invitational tournaments," he said. "We generally referee together in matches, and I can tell you Richard has been doing really well."
The pair have also been running coaching clinics and Brown boasted that Oates can single-handedly carry out these operations.
"He got tired of playing (being an athlete) and said he wanted to coach. He's confident in himself and he doesn't really need me. Back home I can ask Richard to gp anywhere to run clinics. He's very good," Brown said.
Oates, a 38-year-old Clarendon native, who attended the Spanish Town Special School of Hope and the Golding Avenue School of Hope, said he is enjoying the privilege of representing his country as an official, after previous stints as floor hockey player, swimmer and track athlete.
"I feel good because I represent my country as an international referee. I feel very proud of myself. I was an athlete before, and I also coached, and now I'm happy to be a referee at the Special Olympics," Oates said.
Brown, who said he has been living in Jamaica since 1996, explained that Oates' disability and consequent involvement in the Special Athletes' Programme opened the door for advanced challenges.
"Without too much experience we applied to referee Special Olympics in Boise (Idaho) four years ago. That was our first chance to do international or World Games, and then we got invited to come here.
"I'm lucky because he (Oates) was coming, and I got to follow along as his mentor. So because of the Special Athletes' Programme and Richard is so involved he got invited, and I got to come along," said the man whose parents hail from Portland.