Kiwi Mark Porteous “surprised" and "honoured" to be an umpire at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Kiwi Mark Porteous “surprised" and "honoured" to be an umpire at Tokyo 2020 Olympics
The 60-year-old New Zealand umpire wrapped up his best year as an umpire, receiving the New Zealand Softballer of the Year award.

Mark Porteous may be one of the top umpires in the softball world, but he was still surprised to have been selected by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) to work at next year's Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Porteous received the news back in January 2020, when he was confirmed as one of nine umpires to officiate softball at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"I was surprised, and honoured, to be selected, especially considering New Zealand aren't represented there,’’ he said. “To have two Oceania umpires, it was quite special.’’

Within a very short period, he worked two Softball World Cups and an Olympic Softball qualifier, helping him to be named as the New Zealand Softballer of the Year (2019), ahead of the top softball players in the country. 

"It's great to see that [Softball New Zealand] actually recognises the third team, so to speak, officials, as well as players and coaches,'' Porteous told New Zealand news media website Stuff.

In 2019, he was the first base umpire in the final of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship in Prague, the Czech Republic. He also officiated at the WBSC Softball Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifier in Shanghai, China. His international season ended with the 2020 WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup in Palmerston North, New Zealand, this past February.

"Most of the [Tokyo 2020] umpires were at Palmerston North, so we all got together for a bit of a warm-up, and we've continued to meet on Zoom regularly since.”

A former third baseman and utility, Porteous started his umpiring career in 2006, right after his retirement as a player. He received his national umpire's badge in 2008 and international certification in 2011.

His first world championships final -- the WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship 2012 in Argentina -- had an electric and challenging Parana crowd of six to seven thousand spectators.

"The fans were whooping and hollering, there were drums, fireworks, trumpets. The place went absolutely crazy.''

After Tokyo 2020 Games, Porteous says he'll "keep going".

"I think I'm still performing reasonably well," said Porteous. "I'm fit... and keep on top of things. The next men's [Softball] World Cup is here at [North Harbour's] Rosedale Park in 2022.

"I'll be involved in some capacity, but I would like to still be umpiring...That would be a target goal.”