Meet the Referee – Keith Merrick

Name: Keith Merrick

Club: Wolverhampton Judo Club

What is your judo background?                             

I am a 7th Dan, level 4 coach, International Referee, Contest Recorder and British Judo Regional Support Officer who delivers technical content to referees and coaches, my 5th Dan was a competitive grade in 1995. I was a national competitor with a sprinkling of international events (6 x British Open). Midland Area champion and Southern Area silver medallist, also National Veterans silver medallist on the one occasion I entered. I started judo in 1971 at Jukuren Judo Club, just a few miles from the current National Training Centre.

Where are you in your refereeing journey?

I am at the tail end of refereeing international events as the rules are automatic retirement at 65 years, which means my time is up 2024, I am now focussed on tutoring refereeing at all levels.

What has been your favourite moment as a referee?

To referee a World Championship Final ensuring everything was correct from the start to the finish.

What do you love most about refereeing?

For me it’s always been the same, it’s the sheer pleasure of feeling that I have done a really good job of ensuring the correct athlete leaves the mat as the winner for the correct reasons. It is a really gratifying experience when a referee honestly feels it was not possible for them to have done any better in those very difficult or perceived high importance matches.

What are your ambitions in refereeing?

My ambitions have changed the older I have become, initially it was to referee at the highest-level event I could achieve, it is now to significantly help others achieve the highest possible level they can achieve. I have worked really hard to help others develop at an earlier age than I did in the hope that they can achieve their own ambitions more easily, I really enjoy seeing others succeed where I have made some significant positive contributions to their success.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to be a referee?

Those wanting to referee should enter the environment with an open mind understanding that to reach the high levels requires real dedication to the sport and indeed significant time and financial investment. Refereeing is a very rewarding activity that keeps you connected with great athletes and coaches at the cutting edge of judo development, I really believe that refereeing after my contest days has kept me sharp with the latest judo technique and contest strategies.

What three words best describe refereeing to you?

Honesty, Expertise, Determination

Want to start your refereeing journey? Find out more here