At Rio 2016, OMEGA is officially keeping time for every single Olympic Games event. It is the 27th time since 1932 that the brand has proudly fulfilled the role, but for timekeeper Marie Guerry, it is her first Olympic Games experience in Summer.
Luckily, the young woman from Switzerland has been well prepared for the occasion. From Russia to New Zealand, Marie has honed her skills as a timekeeper over the past 8 years in many different sports and events. Most importantly, she has also learned how to deal with the pressure.
“As a timekeeper in places like the Velodrome in London, you feel just a bit of extra stress because you don’t want to make a mistake for the sake of the athletes or the spectators.”
Of course, most people can only imagine the intensity of an Olympic Games environment. Here, the difference between gold and silver can come down to just a fraction of a second. This is where the precision, expertise and confidence of OMEGA’s timekeepers is critical to success. But as Marie says, the pressure is “good pressure”, as it pushes you to be the best that you can.
“As a timekeeper, you are in the best place to experience the true atmosphere of an event. You hear the last words of the coaches and the last prayers of the athletes. It’s in those moments that I love my job. Forget the pressure. It’s an atmosphere you can’t experience anywhere else.”
So what else is challenging for the men and women who are responsible for timing every second of the Olympic Games?
“One of the toughest aspects of my job is the schedule. In Track Cycling, days start at 7:30am and finish at 11pm. The other thing we can’t change is the weather. When you’re outside for winter events, you sometimes have to deal with constant snow and wind. But even when it’s -25 degrees, you still have a duty to the athletes.”
And it was in the snow at Sochi 2014 that OMEGA fulfilled its role as the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games for the 26th time. Marie was the timekeeper in charge of the scoring system in the snowboard events. When it came time for the halfpipe, perhaps the most famous snowboard discipline of all, she was well positioned to experience the action.
“The judge’s room was located just at the end of the halfpipe. That’s where I saw the incredible run of Podladtchikov from Switzerland. As a timekeeper in that situation, I knew before almost everyone else in the world that he was the new gold medallist. It was truly an amazing moment to be in.”
And now to Rio. With Olympians competing for the first time in South America, Marie is working as the main timing operator on the cycling track. The equipment she’s using includes the OMEGA Quantum Timer, the OMEGA Scan’O’Vision MYRIA and transponders. It’s a lot of technology to get her head around but the benefits of the job make all of the training worth it.
“My ‘first world record’ is something I’ll remember for a long time. It was in Monaco in 2015 during the Diamond League. Genzebe Dibaba from Ethiopia ran 3:50:07 in the 1500m. The previous record has been considered unbreakable. I was in charge of the photofinish system and I still feel so proud to have contributed to the moment.”
Pride seems to be a common theme throughout Marie’s career. And although she has travelled the globe, timing everything from mountain biking to basketball, and from beach volleyball to athletics, she never forgets where it all began.
“It makes me quite emotional to say that I’ve participated in the most important sporting events around the world. But it always feels good to be home. I always feel very proud to be Swiss and to represent Swiss precision.”