It is fair to say that Gibraltar is not a world giant when it comes to sporting achievement. But this tiny British dot at the foot of Spain made its own contribution to the festival of sport that was the London Olympics of 2012.
That contribution came in the form of the modest Nathan Stagno, a well-respected hockey umpire who has extensive experience in top level competition, to officiate some of the key fixtures in his sport at the biggest sporting event held in Britain since 1966.
Stagno began his Olympic campaign by officiating in the match between India and Holland; a game the Dutch won 3-2. The moment when his name was announced as the official, prompting a warm home nation welcome from the 16,000 crowd at the Riverbank Arena, is something which will live with the umpire forever.
“When they said my name Nathan Stagno from Great Britain everyone at the pitch applauded. I had goose bumps. It was just amazing,” Stagno told his local paper, the Gibraltar Chronicle, during the Games.
“There simply are no words to express what I was feeling but now I`m an Olympian.”
Not that Stagno`s campaign ended there. He umpired the tight 1-0 win the Germans enjoyed against the South Koreans, working alongside Australian umpire David Gentles. The fixture Stagno next umpired, New Zealand against the Netherlands, was nowhere near as tight, with the men in orange beating the Kiwis 5-1.
The man from Gibraltar did not officiate at any of the matches in the second phase of the hockey tournament, but he could look back on a satisfying campaign where he did both himself and his home nation proud.
Stagno`s contribution to London 2012 and the profile of sport in Gibraltar did not go unnoticed at home. The Minister for Sports, Culture, Heritage and Youth, the Hon Steven Linares, sent the hockey official a warm message of congratulation. A hockey umpire may not sound like the stuff of stardom to people from elsewhere in the world, but for Gibraltarians it was a proud occasion to have one of their own playing such a key role in the Games.
It is now to be hoped that the example set by this modest married father of two sons will have people from the Rock participating in sporting activities and picking up Sportsballshop rugby balls, hockey sticks and whatever else they need to show that they can excel in the sporting arena.
Nathans umpiring career has reached new heights as his impressive record shows. This is undoubtedly a great example to follow for any aspiring sports officials especially hockey umpires.
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