The focus of this weekends’ competition is the Bedford National under 20 and under 23 Championships.

I had a brief chat to Toni last night as he was attempting to navigate his way to his hotel.

“I don’t really know much about Bedford. I don’t want to upset any Bedford residents but it’s a bit of a gap in my knowledge of England”.

“It’s the land of my fathers”.

“I thought that was Napoli?”

“My mum was working in Bedford when my dad came over. They met, my sister was born here and then the family moved to Sheffield where I was born”.

(Those with a keen knowledge of British history or, as in my case, the ability to use Wikipedia will know that Bedford has the highest concentration of Italian immigrants in the UK. BY 1960 7,500 Italian men were employed by the London Brick Company that was based there. Bedford has strong Italian links to this day).

“I take back what I said about Bedford. What’s the order for tomorrow?”

“Basically pretty much everyone apart from Jessica, John, Karla and Louise are competing here. Jo is multi-eventing at Sheffield.”
“Feeling good about it?”

“It is what it is. Everyone’s in pretty good shape and well prepared. Now it’s up to them to perform. I just need to keep abreast of how everyone is getting on. Bugger”.

“What’s up?”.

“Missed my turning.”

I wish Toni a pleasant evening in the town that was the catalyst for his existence and we hang up.


Gold, Silver and Brave

Tonis View Of The Track

Toni’s view of the track

I speak to Toni just as he’s leaving the event. He’s surprised at my impeccable timing but I confess I’ve been following proceedings online.

‘I’m guessing you must be pretty pleased with some of those performances?”

“Yeah, particularly Nikita and Alicia’s. In the main, a good day all round”.

Nikita Warming Up

‘Talk me through it”.

Nikita qualified yesterday but she needed to be a bit quicker in the first two hundred today. It was a bit breezy too. She did just that and then came strong to get the silver. I’m really pleased. Particularly given it was her second four hundred of the year, the first being yesterday. Also it’s only her third season in this event so she’s still learning her trade”

“Fifty three six. Isn’t that a PB?”

“Yes. Which is great. Apart from the fact she was called for drug testing immediately afterwards. Not particularly easy to pee when your legs are full of lactic”.

“I guess not. Alicia seems to be coming good at the right time too?”

Alicia’s race

“Yes. First in the under twenties with a time of 13.44 seconds which gets her in the team for the World Juniors”

Alicia with Lion

I think I know the reason for the gold medal so I chip in, “It must have been the smiley faces”.

“It may have helped. That was all about forward rather than across. It’s about implicit awareness of the hand position. By drawing on the hand you heighten awareness”.

“A bit of humour never hurts either?”

“It’s funny actually. Today in the warm up area people were getting far too serious. Some coaches get very territorial over things like hurdles and lanes when in reality there’s always time to warm up.

It makes me laugh. Everyone needs to calm down.”

“Anxious coach, anxious athlete?”

“You don’t want a flustered coach. Imagine a flustered General in battle? Not good. You do transfer it”.

“Happy coach, happy athlete?”

“Not always. Lucy had a decent first heat but going for broke in the final crashed out. She ploughed into the hurdles.”

“She OK?”

“She’s fine. Sometimes you just have to go for it. I really respect that she pushed herself. She was brave. Today, it just didn’t work out”.

“What about Jo in Sheffield?”

“She got 5648 I think. A very good performance from her. I’ll find out more tomorrow. It’s been a day monitoring training in Sheffield by remote, watching those compete here and keeping tabs on the rest.”

“Busy coach, busy blogger”.

“Are you saying I’m talking too much?”.

“Never. Only that I have a deadline to hit”.

Unbelievably the signal drops out. I put the phone down and pick up the laptop. And now you’ve read what happened.