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Top SA referee named to officiate at Rio Olympics
- Updated: May 13, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
South Africa may not have any wrestlers taking to the mat at this year’s Rio Olympics later this year, but the rainbow nation will still have representation.
That’s after United World Wrestling this week published their final list of referees for the Games on Thursday.
And on that list is one Charles Villet, South Africa’s top referee in the grappling game.
Villet is just back from officiating at the second Olympic qualifying event in Turkey where South Africa’s last chance at qualifying a wrestler evaporated as Martin Erasmus lost his first bout.
The official is one of 50 from around the globe and the only refereeing representative from the African continent.
Villet had to referee at a series of high level UWW competitions including the Senior Wold Championships in Las Vegas last year, the continental championships in Egypt earlier this year and finally the 2nd Qualification Tournament in Turkey in order to show his judgement skills under pressure.
Leading up to his inclusion in the elite group of referees, Charles was appointed by United World Wrestling as neutral referee at the 2014 World Beach Wrestling and then appointed as the neutral referee at the 2015 African Games in Brazzaville, Congo and the 2015 Mostafa Championships in Egypt.
Fifty-two-year-old Villet was a wrestler of some repute back in the day and the Roodepoort resident told Road to Rio 2016: ‘That was back in the isolation years when we couldn’t compete internationally but at least I got to compete against an Oregon team. I was champion of the old SA Airforce in 1980 and 1981 and have also been a South AFrican champion and was a 15-time Transvaal [now Gauteng) champion.
He says that the highlight of his international wrestling referee career to date was a bout between the United States and Iran at the senior world championships in Las Vegas last year.
‘At this stage I don’t know how many matches I’ll get to referee as that is all decided on the actual days of competition.
‘But it’s just the biggest honour ever to be able to represent South Africa on the world’s greatest sporting occasion, the Olympic Games.’