On 15 February 2017, Ole Mertz passed away. Ole Mertz was a former Vice President of the IBF and a great contributor to the sport not only in his native Denmark but internationally through his work in the IBF.
In his young days Ole Mertz was a successful doubles player, twice representing Denmark in the Inter-Zone Finals of the Thomas Cup 1955 and 1958 as well as in 12 International Matches. Four times he reached the Semi-Finals of the All England and six times the Finals of the National Championships. However as a contemporary of great doubles players like Finn Kobberø and Jørgen Hammergaard his only major title became the MD of the Nordic Championship 1964 (with Jesper Sandvad). Other titles were won in Europe, where Ole often played in Sweden, The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. In the Netherlands he helped Leen Verhoef of the Duinwijk Club to bring badminton back towards former glory after the World War.
His leadership abilities showed early and already in 1951, twenty years of age, he was elected Chairman of his Club, Skovshoved IF, the first (founded 1925) and always one of the foremost Badminton Clubs in Denmark. He held this position for 49 years and retired only in 2000 to leave the celebration of the 75 years anniversary of the club to others – Ole Mertz prefers the regular work and achievements for the representational duties.
In 1953 Ole Mertz was elected to the Tournament Committee of the Danish BA, starting a career of 38 years in prominent positions in the association – as Chair of Selectors, starting and chairing an Education and Training Committee and in particular as Deputy President, a position he held from 1969 to 1991 only interrupted by one year as President 1971 – 1972, really against his wishes but his predecessor resigned for health reasons.
With this background and a degree in English and French, teaching English in High-school as his life-long profession, Ole Mertz was pre-determined to be a candidate to the IBF Council, and in 1969 he joined. His broad knowledge of the game and respect for rules and regulations soon came to use as Chairman of the International Championships and Tournaments Committee – today the Events Committee – in a busy and turbulent period when badminton was both a Demonstration Sport at the Munich Olympic Games 1972 and the first World Championships were prepared and held in Malmö 1977.
Ole Mertz was the Referee in Malmö and disqualified countryman Flemming Delfs for coming too late back from the 5 minutes interval between second and third game in a first round MS, which one could claim those days. However Flemming’s opponent, England’s first string Ray Stevens, refused to accept a victory on w.o. The players returned to court and Flemming Delfs won the third game – and went on to win the first World Championships!
Elected a Vice-President of IBF in 1976, Ole Mertz soon realised that he could be in line for an even more prominent position, and – true to his nature – in 1979 he retired from IBF.
Ole Mertz received a Distinguished Service Award from Badminton Europe in 1985.
Ole Mertz finished his lifelong career in sports as a Member of the Appeals Board of the Danish Sports Council and NOC from 1991 to 2002, a rare and very distinguished position, as 4 of 5 members must have a legal background, preferably as a judge. Dealing with complicated cases of applied Sports Law with the legally trained colleagues much appealed to his sharp intelligence and sense of fairness.
The BWF honoured Ole Mertz with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
Along with The BWF, Badminton Europe extends its condolences to Ole Mertz’s family and friends.