NOT satisfied with being a highly-skilled veterinary surgeon, a Dewsbury woman has turned her focus from the operating table to the sporting arena to judge Olympic-level gymnastics all over the world.
Claire McAneny was formerly a gymnast, competing for Scotland at international level, until injuries and the demands of veterinary training resulted in her retiring at 18.
Despite this, Claire, who works for Calder Vets on Savile Road, had such a passion for gymnastics she decided she still wanted to be involved in the sport, and began judging competitions and is now one of only 10 women in the world to hold the international Brevet qualification for men’s artistic gymnastics.
Having judged at the Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and numerous international events for both Team GB and Scotland, last year she was selected to judge at her third Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Then in October 2018 she was selected by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique as one of the top 18 judges aged under 35 worldwide to judge at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.
Claire, who has worked as a veterinary surgeon at Calder Vets for just over a year, says her ultimate ambition is to be a judge at the Olympic Games.
The 35 year-old, originally from Glasgow, said: “It is a thrilling thing to be involved in but, much like being a vet, it can be extremely stressful. You have to make judgements about the gymnasts which can make the world of difference to their careers.
“At the Olympic qualifiers, we are making the decision as to who gets the most amazing opportunity they will ever experience as an athlete. Judging takes up a lot of your time, especially with the travelling involved, and I use up a lot of annual leave, but Calder Vets have been wonderful to me. Everyone is 100 per cent supportive of what I do.
“I love judging but that certainly doesn’t stop me from wishing I was still out there competing myself. I don’t think that will ever change.”
Every Olympic cycle the governing body revises the code used by judges to mark competitors. Every four years Claire has to take an exam to renew her qualifications, which she said is “more nerve-wracking” than the multitude of vet examinations she has had to take.
She said the pinnacle would be selection for the Olympics, but added: “Only two judges from each country are selected each time and they tend to be older and have a few more years’ experience. The 2020 games are not a realistic prospect for me but who knows, 2024 could be my year.”