Ratingen Rain

Athletics Meets Glastonbury

My first text from Toni was the above photo followed by the comment ‘it’s a bit wet here’. Naturally, I pick up the phone,

“It looks awful”

“It’s as bad as Manchester! All the Europeans are telling me it’s god crying because we’re leaving the EU”.

“They might be right”.

“They’re also telling me I now need a visa to be here”.

“They might be right there too”.

“It’s all good banter” he pauses, “for now.”

“How are the BBC crew?” (Toni and Jess are being followed by Gemma and Will, a camera crew, making a documentary for the BBC about the road to the Rio Olympics).

the BBC crew

Gemma & Will

“They’re good guys. Not really familiar with Heptathlon but learning quickly. They’re actually very soggy so I feel a bit sorry for them”.

“Apart from the shocking conditions how’s it going?”

“First off, I don’t think we’ve ever been looked after so well. It’s a good, knowledgeable crowd and everyone’s in good spirits. The weather even seems to be improving but it’s been bad this morning”.

“What’s the upshot?”

“The upshot is that the two main events where you don’t want loads of rain, the hurdles and high jump, is where it was bouncing off the track and creating puddles”.

I’m studying the updates online whilst we’re talking, “It looks like Jess did well in the hurdles all things considered?”.

“That’s a fair comment. We were a bit glum when we first saw the rain but it quickly became less about the points and more about the performance.

We’re about ten points down on Gotzis after two events but if we can get there, or there abouts, in dreadful conditions it’s a good result. Maybe even some PPPBs later.

I was hoping it would be a dress rehearsal for Rio. It might still be. It could be eighteen degrees and pouring down at the Olympics!”

“Rio is about winning, here is about the score”

“How’s Jess?”

“She’s good. It’s like she said. Rio is about winning, here is about the score”

“I see the newspapers have picked up that you’re not going to the training camp in Brazil, alongside the usual misquotes”.

“The reality is that it’s about what’s easy and convenient for Jess and her family. She needs the most comfortable environment. You’ll never get away from the Zika topic and I haven’t got a crystal ball to know what will happen. I have to deal with what she needs here and now to keep her happy”.

Ratingen team breakfast

The team at breakfast

Toni is hitting stride now,

“Reggie is older too, he notices when mum’s away. It’s a common sense decision based on the needs of the athlete.

To perform an athlete needs to be comfortable, happy and confident. Not understanding how external factors might affect you upsets that balance.

If you want to create magic you have to make magical choices”.

Toni reads Carlo

One Great Coach reads About Another

“It’s a foolish mistake to not look at anything and everything that would influence performance.  That’s my job and it’s me doing my job. Just let me get on with what’s appropriate”.

“That probably doesn’t make such good headlines”.

“Nor does the fact that there are other countries here who have decided to base their training camps elsewhere and then fly in a few days before the event. It’s common practice”.

“there are other countries here who have decided to base their training camps elsewhere and then fly in a few days before the event. It’s common practice”

“But rubbish news.”


“And the next couple of days?”

“Will now inform training even more than they might have done if the conditions had been different.

We’re also looking for a couple more competitions. Which ones are dependent on how the weekend goes”.

On that note I wish Toni well and start to get ready for a trip to London to see another Sheffield based superstar, Heavy Weight Champion Anthony Joshua.

A text pings on my phone. It’s Toni and it’s good news.

toni text message

toni pinning race number

Bring on the PPPBs!