Before you get too concerned about the blog headline, I should explain. The needle referred to is actually in Toni. More on that later. Relax, there is no ‘needle’ to report in camp, it was just too good a headline to resist.

Yesterday I had to say goodbye to the team and return to the UK. For a stay that lasted only three days it proved a memorable experience.

toni in the shade

Toni in the Shade(s)

I’ve had the good fortune to be in and around many sports’ performance environments but this had as significant an impact on me as any. Everything relates to Jess’ performance; from the more obvious technical and physiological support through to anticipation of the environment at Rio. As Toni explains,

“In the earlier days there was a lot more emphasis on Jess as athlete. There was more to work on and develop. At thirty she is steeped in the experience of competing at the world’s biggest athletics events. Nowadays it’s more about relationships. That’s why sorting a car seat is critical. It’s about ensuring that everything that could provide a negative distraction is removed or limited”.

toni and jess

Toni and Jess

The constant (and believe me it is constant) interplay in the team between applied effort, wide ranging discourse and focused analysis is both exhaustive and exhausting. This is where the banter comes in. A scientist will reference the relationship between laughter and the release of dopamine. For me, it perfectly sums up that elusive ‘professionalism’ tag. It proves the point that you can be extraordinarily serious without taking yourself too seriously.

Following on from the heat of Sunday’s session and the decision to postpone the gym session the plan was adapted to include weights work today.

in between lifts

In Between Lifts

Toni summarises, “It was catch up, a little bit of work to keep things ticking along. Plans written in pencil remember?”

“I remember”.

As had been mooted the previous day some of the male members of the team, namely Toni, Derry and Mick decided an Arnie inspired ‘pumping iron’ session was required. This is the only evidence. I’m not entirely sure Arnie ever did this:

choose your own caption

Choose Your Own Caption

“What are you standing on?”

“It’s a vibration platform. Normally there’s a handle on the front. It helps you stretch a bit. My hip has been sore for a while. It’s the SI joint”.

“What’s that?”

“No idea. But it’s totally jammed and the pelvis is rotated. When I walked back from the track to the hotel yesterday it was worse than usual so Alison manipulated it and then chose do some acupuncture”.

A Healthy Coach

“How was it?”

“Feeling much better today”

ouch needles


As if you haven’t seen enough of Toni ‘in the flesh’ recently I’ll leave you with his strip and song routine. Enjoy the dopamine.

Banter Time