Walking into the hotel I have a split second hesitation. Is this the right hotel? Could there be another hotel with the same name in the area? I needn’t have worried. The sight of Toni, evidently making a point by gesticulating in every direction, is unmistakable. Things have obviously settled into the norm and quickly.

As it turns out, I’ve timed it just right. After a quick refresh it’s a short minibus ride to the training facility.

Jess and Alison Stretch

Jess and Alison Stretch. Toni Strips

The first thing I notice is the heat. The second is the team dynamic. The mood is relaxed but purposeful. There’s an evident focus but no sense of drama brought on by the imminent departure to Rio.

As Derry explains to me, “This isn’t like a usual holding camp. Normally you’d be surrounded by lots of other teams and noise”.

Derry doing his best Top Gun

Derry Doing His Best ‘Top Gun’

“I’m guessing this is better?”

“Much better. Here we just get the job done. Otherwise you get a lot of noise, a lot of shouting and…” he pauses, “quite a lot of ego.”

First session of the afternoon session is shot put. Toni staggers out from behind the storage shed carrying three shots. As he approaches the throwing circle he stumbles and a shot falls onto his foot. He hops around shouting obscenities and wailing in pain. We all look at each other, not sure what do. Then he stands up with the broadest of grins, “Got ya!”.

It’s a set up. He’d found a half kilo shot and couldn’t resist the gag. Laughter and insults exchanged it’s down to serious business.

Toni demonstrates Shot

Toni Demonstrates it

Bricey demonstrates Shot

Bricey Demonstrates it
Jess Does it

After an extensive shot session it’s off to the gym for a weights session. Toni is so satisfied with the way he decides to do a little work out himself. Behold the master in action,

Toni Reflects and the Lifts

In between weights’ sessions, Bricey shows off his (I hate to admit) impressive footballing skills. Fifty ‘keepy-uppys’ on one foot without breaking sweat. Unfortunately for him I fail to capture video evidence. However, I do grab a few seconds of Jess’ attempt to beat the record,

Keepy Uppy

Session completed, the major drama of the afternoon is attempting to fit a car seat for Jess’ son, Reggie, who is arriving the following day with Andy. Despite numerous attempts not one of us is able to fit the hire seat effectively. Cue a shopping trip,

Shopping for Baby Seats

Thankfully for us, the shop keeper takes pity and shows us how to fit the original seat.

There must be a joke in there somewhere. “How many of Toni’s team does it take to fit a childs’ car seat?” Answers on the back of a postcard.