SYDNEY // Julius (Judy) Patching, who was involved in every Summer Olympics since working as the chief starter in the athletics competition at the 1956 Melbourne Games, has died at the age of 92, the Australian Olympic Committee said today. The AOC said Mr Patching died on Friday at his home near Geelong in Victoria state. Last year, Mr Patching accepted an invitation from the AOC to participate in the Beijing 2008 Torch Relay leg in Canberra. At the age of 91, Mr Patching, a Navy veteran, carried the torch up to the Australian War Memorial. Mr Patching was secretary-treasurer and later secretary-general of Australia's Olympic committee between 1974 and 1985. He was also athletics section manager on the 1960 Rome Olympic team, assistant chef de mission at the 1964 Tokyo Games and chef de mission at Mexico 1968 and Munich 1972. At Sydney 2000 he was the deputy mayor of the Olympic Village.
AOC president John Coates said Patching devoted much of his life to the Olympic movement. "I know of no Olympic or sporting official who was more loved by the athletes in his teams than Judy Patching," Mr Coates said. "He has always been a good friend ... the Olympic movement owes him so much." Mr Coates said Mr Patching was proud of the "fact that in 1956, there was not one false start with him in charge of the starting gun. The exception was when he handed the gun to a junior to send off the marathon field, with Mr Patching believing no one could foul up the start of the marathon. IOC president Jacques Rogge provided a video tribute to Patching on the Australian's 90th birthday. Patching was survived by his sons Bruce and Colin, six grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.