“How are you doing Toni?”
“Busy, busy, busy”. I can almost hear the teeth grinding.
“As in ‘too busy to speak to Giles’ busy?”
“No, no, that’s fine”. I sense an immediate relaxing in the jaw muscles. Toni has this ability. Where some of us dwell and fret over things Toni’s mood peaks (often accompanied by a rant) and then immediately subsides to placid and gently amused. Maybe it’s to do with his Italian heritage.
“What’s keeping you busy then?”
“Logistics. Questions. Sorting things out.
If I’m not watching training, I’m on the phone and if I’m not on the phone then I’m trying to answer a question”.
“Shouldn’t someone else be doing this for you?!”
“Normally you rock up to the airport to fly with the team. You just remember your bags and that’s it.
This time it’s more involved”.
“If I’m not watching training, I’m on the phone and if I’m not on the phone then I’m trying to answer a question”
(Like many other athletes Jess is holding her training camp in an alternative venue and flying into Rio to compete).
“Yeah, but I’m the leader so who else is going to do it?
It’s not just flights it’s working out the best way to get the Javelins there, resolving if we need more medical equipment than we’re currently planning for.
Realising you can’t pay for a baby seat until you get to the destination….”
I take a breath, “Anything I can do to help?”
“Nah, it’s fine. Just a bit manic.
Don’t forget I’ve got to look after the rest of the group as well. I think some people think we just create this little bubble around the team preparing for Rio and that’s it”.
Looking After the Rest of the Group
“Far from it..”
“Well I know some work like that. But if I’m not prepping for Rio then I’m coaching someone else”.
I sense the genial, laid back mood slipping away so change to specifics,
“I saw the clips from Seun’s training. We’ve had a couple of questions asking for triple jump advice. What’s he doing there that could help other people?”
“We’re working on some new techniques. Mainly trying to get the thigh parallel to the floor from the hip to knee.”
“Two things. Firstly you’re able to take a bigger step in the hop, step, jump progression. Secondly that allows the lower part of the limb to reach out even further”
“And the hurdle jumping?”
“That’s all about teaching ‘bounce’. Getting the body to be more proactive”.
“I thought he was going to face plant at the end. Which would have been awful for Seun. But very funny”.
“Even the experts can get it wrong”.
“Oh. Toni, talking of which”.
“Don’t forget your toothbrush”.