Olympic dream to be fulfilled for Australian taekwondo referee. WT

For International Referee (IR), Nichola (Nikky) White, the path to being appointed a referee for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games has been as long and costly as it has been rewarding, Taekwondo Australia reports.

Any referee who gains this incredible accolade has made sacrifices in the pursuit of professional development and ongoing training. As a young female from Tasmania, White has navigated more obstacles than most in pursuit of her dreams.

Encouraged by her family’s involvement in Taekwondo, and especially inspired by her older sister who had started competing in Kyorugi, White first got involved in the martial art when she was six years old. She quickly gravitated towards Poomsae competition, but found her true calling when she took up refereeing as a teenager. 

Nikky White (left) with WT President Chungwon Choue. TAEKWONDO AUSTRALIA
Nikky White (left) with WT President Chungwon Choue. TAEKWONDO AUSTRALIA

From the beginning, White poured her heart and soul into becoming the best Taekwondo referee possible. To attain IR accreditation, White had to attend and pass World Taekwondo’s in-depth multi-day seminars. After that, like all referees, she also attends international refresher courses every few years to continue refereeing at international events. 

"Unfortunately, Australia does not host these courses very often which increases the travel time and cost to stay up to date as an International Referee," she says.

Soon after becoming an IR in 2017, White was trying to get as much competition experience as possible to improve and develop her knowledge and skills. She started travelling to Queensland club/state events on top of Victorian competitions and any national events she could. 

In 2019, White was invited to attend the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games International Referee Selection and Training Camp. While on that occasion she didn’t make the shortlist, the opportunity to experience this competitive environment at international level was highly valuable. 

Since then she has officiated at two Cadet World Championships, a Junior World Championships, two World Championships, one Para World Championship, five Grand Prixs, and a Grand Prix Final amongst other World Taekwondo recognised events.

Nikky White (left) at the 2019 Canada Open. TAEKWONDO AUSTRALIA
Nikky White (left) at the 2019 Canada Open. TAEKWONDO AUSTRALIA

When the Olympic Taekwondo competition gets underway in Paris from 7 August, White will be in the thick of the action, applying her comprehensive knowledge base – developed over years of dedication to the craft – to uphold the rules and make the Australian Taekwondo community proud.

Having set her sights on the 2024 Paris Olympics back in 2019, White feels a deep sense of satisfaction at achieving her goal.

"I don’t think I stopped smiling for at least a week after reading my appointment letter. Paris is shaping up to be a very special Olympics. The venue for Taekwondo, the Grand Palais, has got to be one of the most incredible venues, certainly very different from our regular sports stadiums. I feel so privileged that I’ll be there with 25 of the best referees in the world alongside the best athletes," she says.

"If the qualification tournaments are anything to go by we’re in for some very intense competition. I’m sure under the leadership and guidance of Technical Delegate Mohamed Shaaban and Referee Chair Songchul Kim, along with the rest of the World Taekwondo and Paris 2024 personnel it will be a successful and enjoyable event."

Beyond the competition, White is amazed by the wider opportunities that come with refereeing Taekwondo at the highest level. 

"There is something very special about being a World Taekwondo referee, it really is like being part of a giant international family," she says. "Over the last seven years I’ve travelled to 20-plus countries, and met, worked with, and forged friendships with so many people from all over the world."