Australian water polo referee Nicola Johnson is on track to make history at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, becoming the first Australian female referee to be nominated for the Olympic Games.
The Brisbane local was a table official at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and will again take to the world stage as one of the FINA referees in July next year.
The nomination comes off the back of some solid refereeing performances at the 2018 World League Super Finals and 2018 FINA World Cup.
While Nicola has landed some of the top refereeing jobs in recent years, she said the opportunity to referee at the Olympics is one that caught her by surprise.
“It was still my dream to make it to the Olympics, but I missed out on the World Championships this year and thought that was it,” Nicola said.
“Then to find out that FINA had announced the panel and I was on it - I was absolutely stunned.”
Nicola added that as a female referee, it’s great to know that there is support behind her.
“The men that have been there before have been so supportive of me, and now I feel like it’s my time to lead from the front and be an example to other female referees of what they can achieve.”
Nicola will travel to Tokyo along with other referees, delegates, officials and athletes from around the world.
“Seeing the world’s greatest athletes, from all sports, all together is going to be such a highlight.
“And to be a small part of the Games that athletes have worked so hard for... it’s nice to know that the trust has been put in me to officiate at such a prestigious event.”
Water Polo Australia President Thomas Whalan said the nomination for Nicola is a credit to her years of dedication and service.
“The Olympic Games is the pinnacle sporting event and to be given the opportunity to referee at an Olympics is something Nicola should be extremely proud of,” Whalan said.
“The WPA Board and Australian water polo community would like to congratulate Nicola on her appointment, we are looking forward to seeing her on the world stage next year.”
In the build-up to Tokyo, Nicola will referee a series of international tests on Australian soil, including the Australia vs USA test matches in her home town of Brisbane.
Water Polo Australia