Highly-regarded Ipswich track official Des Johnston is retiring from international duty after serving at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Highly-regarded Ipswich track official Des Johnston is retiring from international duty after serving at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. David Lems

Preparation important for key people watching

DURING major events like the Commonwealth Games, Des Johnston had to be mindful of his preparation.

His role over eight days at the Gold Coast was not as physically demanding as the athletes he watched for any indiscretions. However, the Ipswich resident offered a valuable insight into how officials at international level still had to also look after themselves.

Johnston said being hydrated was important, especially during the longer sessions.

But after many years working at various competitions, he felt comfortable in the middle of Carrara Stadium.

"It's what we do for national championships and even state championships here in Queensland,'' he said.

"We're just used to having to spend three, sometimes four hours, at a go.

"We're hydrated. We carry the water with us and most of the people wander around with a water bottle under their arm.''

Before competition, officials also do their own preparation.

"Keep yourself reasonably fit. That's the key,'' he said.

"Make sure you've got distance in your legs and things like that. I do a lot of walking.''

Having turned 76 on April 12 during the Games, Johnston plans to continue his athletic duties at local, state and national events when he can.

However, he completes his international role with another mission.

"I'm working hard to make sure that when I'm finished, there are people who can take over the role,'' he said.

The former Ipswich State High, North Ipswich and Ipswich Central school teacher has enjoyed his terrific athletic journey.

"It's been a huge privilege to actually work with top-level athletes in the school system and also to take that to the next level once I got out of teaching,'' he said. "So that I could give back by being there beside the track rather than coaching.''