International Women’s Day: Nixey Breaking Barriers in Badminton

International Women’s Day: Nixey Breaking Barriers in Badminton

To mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate Lynne Nixey, one of the BWF technical officials inspiring inclusion and excellence.

Hailing from New Zealand, Nixey’s passage into the realm of badminton officiating began at a young age, inspired by her father’s involvement as an umpire and referee.

“I sort of went along with it,” Nixey recalls with a chuckle. “But then I discovered I was quite good at it.”

Indeed, Nixey’s prowess became evident early on, passing her first umpire exam at the age of 16. From there, her trajectory soared, leading her to officiate at national and international levels, eventually becoming a BWF umpire.

The role of a badminton umpire and BWF tournament referee is multifaceted, requiring judgment, impartiality, and a deep understanding of the game’s nuances. She umpired at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games before transitioning to become a referee.

“I retired as an umpire in 2009,” Nixey explains. “Since then, I’ve worked on two Olympics, including as a deputy referee at Tokyo 2020.”

Nixey (right) at the Tokyo Games.

The only female badminton referee at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the Kiwi reflects on the importance of inclusivity in badminton officiating.

“We treat all players as equals,” Nixey emphasises. “Female or male, we treat them as they are an entity, a player.”

Addressing the challenges faced by female referees in the sport, Nixey remains optimistic about the future.

“In my mind, we are all equal,” she asserts. “It’s not because females are better or worse than their counterparts. There are more paths for females in badminton because there are more opportunities due to there being fewer females. It’s a great thing.”

Nixey’s journey hasn’t been without its obstacles. In regions where gender equality isn’t universally embraced, she has faced resistance but remains steadfast in her role.

“There are countries where females are not considered equals,” Nixey reveals. “As a referee in a country like that, you really have to push the envelope. ‘This is my role, I’m not defined by my gender’.” Despite the challenges, Nixey sees progress on the horizon, with more women embracing officiating roles in badminton.

“I’m thrilled to see them come through,” she remarks. “It’s heartening the women we have are of a level equal to their male counterparts.”

Nixey (second right) hopes to inspire more females into officiating roles.

In celebrating the contributions of female referees, she commended the badminton community for its efforts but believes there’s always room for improvement.

“I’ve had more articles written about me, spoken more about it and had more discussions,” she notes. “We can always do more to support our female referees across the board, but badminton has the greatest support for females compared to other sports.”

Nixey’s journey is inspiring generations of aspiring officials to break barriers and pursue their passion for badminton, regardless of gender. As she paves the way for future female referees, her legacy serves as a testament to the power of perseverance and dedication in shaping a more inclusive sporting landscape.