An East Hartford man is heading to Rio, where he will be the first American table tennis referee since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Roman Tinyszin is one of five people in the world who will referee Olympic table tennis.
Tinyszin, who refereed the 2004 Athens Paralympics and the Table Tennis World Series in China, said he can’t wait to be in Rio.
“This is my first official Olympics,” Tinyszin said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Tinyszin’s love for the game began when he was 10-years-old and played the game with his father.
He became umpire in 1992 and an international umpire in 2002. In 2013, he eventually became an international referee.
The call from the International Table Tennis Federation asking him to be a table tennis referee for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games came in December.
“I’m excited, but I also know that if I make a mistake while I am there the entire world will know, so I have to kind of remain reserved,” he said.
“Inside I’m like yeah, yeah! But outwardly I can’t I don’t show it,” Tinyszin said.
The chance of him being picked again for something like this in his lifetime is basically slim to none because there are about 215 international table tennis referees in the world, he said.
He’s one of seven in the United States.