Joy jets off to third Olympics

PUBLISHED: 14:30 07 February 2014

Joy Johnston is officiating at her third Winter Olympics in Sochi (pic: John Scott)

Joy Johnston is officiating at her third Winter Olympics in Sochi (pic: John Scott)


Romford referee ‘honoured’ by selection

Romford’s Joy Tottman flew out to Sochi to appear in her third Winter Olympics this week.

And the ice hockey referee, now known as Joy Johnston following her marriage to Scott in October, is determined to enjoy every moment.

“Being selected to officiate at my third Olympics is a huge honour.

“The reality is that despite this being my third Olympics I’m probably more nervous and more excited than before.”

Having played junior hockey at Rom Valley Way, alongside the likes of current Raiders captain Grant Taylor, the young Joy followed her late dad Dave into the black and white striped jersey and played for Oxford University.

Selection for the 2006 Winter Games in Turin came as something of a surprise, but ended with Joy taking charge of two key matches.

“I was relatively new to international officiating and extremely young to be selected for an Olympics,” she added.

“There were no expectations for me and I was there for the experience. I refereed the games and was almost too young to fully appreciate the significance of what I was doing.”

Joy called the historic semi-final between Sweden and the USA, which saw the Americans denied a place in the gold medal match for the only time in women’s ice hockey history.

And selectors then offered her one more assignment in Italy, as Joy added: “I ended up refereeing the bronze medal game, which I knew was a huge achievement for my first Olympics, but maybe I still didn’t believe I had actually done it or that I deserved to be there.”

Four years later and Joy was picked for the Vancouver Games, despite increased competition among officials.

And being in the ‘home of hockey’ she was determined to soak up the atmosphere.

“I had more experience under my belt and the officiating scene had become stronger and better,” she said.

“I started to appreciate the challenge of being selected and staying at the top of my game.

“I made time to really enjoy and cherish the moments when I was there.”

Tragedy was just around the corner, though, as Dave sadly passed away unexpectedly in August 2011.

The loss of her mentor and number one fan hit Joy hard and made her question her own future in the sport.

“For a long time I wasn’t sure I wanted to officiate or be involved in hockey any more without him,” she said.

“I’d always talk to my Dad about my games. We would talk through difficult situations and analyse what the right call was. He always believed in me and until I lost him I didn’t realise that I probably didn’t really believe in myself as much as I should have done and needed him to keep me going.”

Once the new season got underway, Joy was hit by the puck and needed surgery on her ear, followed by eight weeks off the ice.

And it was during that time that she lost her motivation to train and eat well, meaning her performance at the 2012 World Championships in Vermont was below her usual high standards.

“I sat down at the end of the tournament for a frank and honest discussion with the supervisors,” she added.

“They knew I had lost Dad and it had been a tough season, but they helped me focus on needing to get back into shape. I needed to improve my fitness and skating to be in with a chance of staying at the top level.”

After lots of hard work with a new personal trainer, which meant 6.30am sessions each day, Joy lost 15kg and started to see a speed skating instructor in Nottingham each weekend during the summer.

It paid off as Joy took charge of the bronze medal match at last year’s World Championships in Ottawa and came through a Pre-Olympic selection camp in Lake Placid.

“With 10 of us there and only six spots for referees there was obviously a real sense of competition,” she said.

“It was a really tough week, physically, mentally and emotionally. We were all exhausted and drained by the end. I knew I had given my best and got an email on December 1 from Ice Hockey UK telling me I had been selected. I intend to enjoy and cherish every moment in Sochi.”

Tottman’s former PE teacher at Albany, Lisa Wilson, said: “We are so proud of Joy’s achievements. As a Games Maker at London 2012 I remember how privileged I felt being involved with London 2012 Olympics.

“Joy must feel the same being asked to referee at Winter Olympics 2014. We’re very proud of our former student being involved in her third Olympics and wish her all the best for a successful Games.”

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