By Joe Fisher, Manager URC

Karol Ziduliak announced his retirement from international activity on May 24, 2021.  TTCAN had a mutually beneficial relationship with Karol for the past 40 years in Canada.  Prior to that Karol was a national official in Czechoslovakia.  Not only has Karol served as an umpire and referee at the highest levels, but he also provided leadership to the development of officials in British Columbia, across Canada and around the world.  The following article summarizes some of Karol’s contributions.

Umpiring area                                                                                                                                       

After Karol and his family arrived in Canada, he was told that he had to start with the Club Umpire exam, although he was already a National Umpire and National Referee in Czechoslovakia, the country of many world champions in the past. He was not happy about it, but the process turned out to be good for Karol. He learned English much faster and passed all exams from CU up to Blue Badge Umpire on the first attempt. It has also helped Karol in his personal and working life. Of all the activities in umpiring, there are three that must be mentioned as highlights:

  • 1987 – World Championships New Delhi, India
  • 1988 – Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea. This was very special, because it was the first time that table tennis was included in Olympic Games. Karol, as a Refugee 8 years earlier was representing his new adopted country of Canada.
  • 1996 – Paralympic Games Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Blue Badge area

Shortly after qualifying as a Blue Badge Umpire (June 2004 – first in Canada) Karol became an evaluator of umpires in the BB Program of ITTF. He participated at quite a few World Championships and Open Championships of countries as an evaluator.  He received a letter of commendation from ITTF Umpires and Referees Committee for his invaluable contribution as an evaluator for the Blue Badge program from 2003 to 2014.

Refereeing area                                                                                                                                 

After passing Provincial and National Referee Exams, Karol attended an IR School in Houston, USA (1988). He scored the highest mark on the exam and was the only Canadian of three who passed. His previous experience in Czechoslovakia paid off. Besides many refereeing duties at Canadian Championships, Canada Winter Games, BC Championships and BC Winter Games and other Canadian Tournaments and USA Closed and Open Championships Karol supported many other events which are listed below:

  • 2000 – World Veterans 10th Championships (WVTTC) – Vancouver – Head Referee.
  • 2004 – WVTTC – Yokohama, JPN,
  • 2008 – WVTTC – Rio de Janeiro, BRA,
  • 2010 – WVTTC – Hohhot, Mongolia,
  • 2012 – WVTTC – Stockholm, SWE,
  • 2016 – WVTTC – Alicante, Spain
  • 2003 – Parapan American TT Championships – Brasilia, Brazil – Referee
  • 2003 – First Junior World Championships – Santiago de Chile – Referee
  • 2005 – CPISR World Championships – New London, Connecticut, USA – Referee
  • 2005 – ITTF World Junior Circuit Event – Richmond, CAN – Referee
  • 2006 – Arctic Winter Games – Kenai, Alaska, USA – Referee
  • 2006 – World PTT Championships – Montreaux, Switzerland – DR
  • 2007 – Para Pan American Games –Rio de Janeiro, BRA – Referee
  • 2008 – Paralympic Games – Beijing, China – DR
  • 2009 – Para Pan American Championships – Margarita Island, VEN – Referee
  • 2011 – Para Pan American Games – Guadalajara, MEX – DR
  • 2015 – Para Pan American Games – Toronto, CAN – DR
  • 2016 – PTT USA Open – Las Vegas, USA – DR
  • 2019 – North American Olympic Qualification – Chicago, USA – DR.

Para Table Tennis (PTT) area                                                                                                                                         

Para Table Tennis is one of the areas that made Karol extremely proud because he could see that he was needed, and he could make a real positive difference in the quality of the events. Karol was in the right place at the right time to begin his association with Para Table Tennis. He was at the 2001 Para Pan-American Championship in Buenos Aires as an umpire when Raul Calin, the Referee, asked Karol to step in as a Deputy Referee for the Tournament after learning that Karol was an International Referee. Karol gladly accepted the invitation without hesitation. That was the beginning of many years of involvement with PTT. This was before PTT joined ITTF. It was well known that the PTT Tournaments used to be short of qualified umpires and in many cases qualified referees. Many umpires and referees can remember that organizers quite often invited spectators from the stands to help with umpiring. Since that first event, Karol has been invited to many PTT Tournaments as a Referee, or Deputy Referee.

He was the Technical Officer of PTTD of ITTF from 2006 until around 2011. He served on the committee that oversees the merging PTT Rules to ITTF Rules during that time. He also qualified as a Technical Delegate to PTT Tournaments and was Technical Delegate to many PTT Tournaments in South America, USA, and Europe. Karol attended the last PTT Tournament as a TD in Buenos Aires in December 2018. He certainly enjoyed volunteering for PTT very much because athletes and coaches at Para events create an atmosphere of positivity which is not always apparent at other events.

TTCAN (Former CTTA) Officials Committee          

Karol started to work as a member of the Officials Committee for CTTA and later as the Officials Committee Chairman. Besides doing regular duties the committee prepared and administered Refresher Exams for Umpires and Referees. Refresher Exams were an innovation in the world of table tennis.

BCTTA Officials Committee Chairman                                                                                                                        

Karol worked tirelessly on developing and qualifying many CUs, PUs, NUs, IUs, PRs. At one point BC had more IUs and BB Umpires than the rest of Canada. For at least 2 full years every match in BC tournaments was officiated by a certified umpire. The feedback from these officials was extremely positive which encouraged many of them to move along the pathway for an official. Some call this time a golden era of table tennis officiating in BC. It would not be possible without the support of the Board of Directors of BCTTA.

Karol has been quoted as saying the following:

“Only the crazy people volunteer for table tennis, and I am proud to be one of them.  I have enjoyed every minute of it”.

TTCAN would like to thank Karol for his service in his Province, in Canada and around the world.  His dedication is second to no one.  Congratulations on an outstanding career. 

Statement from Karol Ziduliak:

“I would like to thank TTCAN and its predecessor CTTA for giving me the opportunity to participate in many different areas of table tennis in Canada and internationally. When we came to Canada in 1979 as Refugees, with only 2 expressions in English (Thank You and Welcome) I would not even dream about the scale of my future table tennis activities. I believe I have accomplished quite a lot.   

One of the main reasons to retire from international duty is that I must take almost full-time care of my wife Magdalena of 55 years, because of her health issues. It is now my turn to return her unconditional support of my table tennis activities.

If there will be a need to help as a Referee, or DR in Vancouver, including international events, I will be more than happy to do so. All the best to all the volunteers in our beloved sport of table tennis.”

From Keven Lachaine, TTCAN URC Chair

“In my personal name and on behalf of the URC, we want to thank you for all the time you spend with TTCAN. We are grateful to have been able to benefit from your experience.

We hope to have the chance to work with you in future Canadian events. Thank you very much.”

From Joe Fisher, TTCAN URC Manager

“Even though we have disagreed on a few items over the years, I appreciate all the effort that you put towards the development of officials in BC, in Canada and around the World.  I appreciate the future support that you have offered for events held in BC.  Your expertise can certainly be of benefit.  Thank you.

I have been married for 43 years and completely understand the bond and love that you have for Magdalena.  This is the #1 priority. I wish the both of you all the best for the future.”

From Rob Chan, TTCAN Vice President

“Thank you for all the years of volunteer work you have contributed to the table tennis community.  You have made umpiring and refereeing in TTCAN a better place with your contributions.  Your resume of activities and accomplishments are impressive. 

I totally understand your decision and sacrifice to take care of your wife as those are the true priorities of life.

It was a pleasure working with you in the past and hopefully we will meet again in the future.”

From Darek Mikita, Manitoba TTA President

“It was a pleasure to learn from you and subsequently to work with you in many events in Canada over few decades. MTTA together with the entire team of umpires and referees from Manitoba thank you very much for your world of wisdom.

You were also one of the panelists (together with Don and Len) during my National exam in Vancouver. Thanks, and all the best from Manitoba.”

From Greg Dzioba, IU

“On a personal note, I would like to thank you very much for everything! You were my icon, with a very high standard. You helped me the whole way since I started officiating a long time ago. It was an honor for me to be able to work and learn from you. I learned from the very BEST… Dziękuję!!!!!”

From Ian Kent, ParaTT

“Karol, your constant work in Table Tennis is always beyond excellence. Quite simply, your excellence and good manner always inspired me to be a better person. You have been a great ambassador for Table Tennis Canada around the world! I had many great discussions with you that I will never forget.”

From Adham Sharara, TTCAN President

“You served Canada with pride, and you made Canada proud. Since I first met you at a BC training camp in Port Alberni, I have held you in the highest esteem. I wish you, Magdalena, Olga and Erika all the best for the future and hope to see you again soon in Vancouver.”