toni-rio-medal

Toni Gets His Own Medal

It’s been two and half days at University this week for Toni. The rest of the time has been looking after his partner who is recovering from an operation on her foot that has, in turn, necessitated some healthy doses of daddy day care. I suspect the Olympics feels like a hazy dream. Not wishing to kick-start a case of melancholy I focus on a safer topic,

“So what have classes been on this week?”

“Physiology, nutrition and strength and conditioning.  We’re studying adolescents and the best way to train them”.

This pulls me up short,  “Are you studying or lecturing?”

“Studying”.

“Well you’ve done a pretty good job of messing it up so far”.

Toni snorts obligingly,  “Well, you know, never stop learning, refining. Actually we’re doing quite a lot of work on Biometrics which is a good excuse to go back and look at an area that will help me moving forward”.

“And how’s ‘moving forward’ going?”

“Doing some good work with Alicia, specifically relating to Biomechanics. I’ll send you a video. You’ll be able to see for yourself the imbalance we’re working on”.

“Also I’ve been to the track a couple of times, checking they’re alright.  It’s pretty much all planning at the moment. My desk is much tidier if nothing else”.

I seize the chance to make a, somewhat tenuous, switch to the topic on my mind,

“It’s been another messy week for sport in general though. Any thoughts?”

“When you hold a position in society – you can’t help but become a role model. Your actions carry more weight. People have expectations of you or aspire to be like you”

Toni picks up the pace immediately, “Here’s a quote for you. There are no TUE’s for systematic steroid abuse”.   He then continues in a convincing but fairly rich vein that, due to my lack of legal experience, I decide not to document. Let’s return to the monologue when certain individuals in cycling are no longer the focus,

“When you hold a position in society – you can’t help but become a role model. Your actions carry more weight. People have expectations of you or aspire to be like you”

“Like Sam Allardyce?” (Sam was Toni’s pick for the England Head Coach job).

“I don’t know the facts but I do know there are expectations of a certain level of behavior in a role like that. In accepting the role you’re attached to a national identity. In a way you now represent a nation on the world stage”.

“So to what extent do you see yourself as a role model?”

Toni and the team in Rio

This question was asked in all innocence but for possibly the first time since this blog started, Toni is almost floored,

“That’s the first time anyone asked me that. It never occurred to me before”, he trails off, thinking, “ valid point…. never thought of it that way”.

“Well you may not carry the hopes of a nation in the same way as Sam but as far as I’m concerned, to a lot people, you are a role model. Like it or not!”

Toni doesn’t take long to rally,

“Morality and integrity are the important things for me. Am I noble? No. But if I see something I feel is wrong I’ll say something.

You have got to stand up for what you believe is right.

“I’ve been accused of lacking political savvy. If that means being silent when I see something that’s wrong, then I’d rather be a buffoon”.

I’ve been accused of lacking political savvy. If that means being silent when I see something that’s wrong, then I’d rather be a buffoon”.

I’d like to think I’m respected because I won’t let someone get me down. It’s like the Pastor Niemoller poem…First They came”.

“I know the one”.

poem

“With great power comes great responsibility. Where a politician is concerned, we hand over rights and responsibilities and hope they’ll do the right thing for the right reason”.

“I think readers might think were getting a bit deep?”

“OK. Here’s another example. In sports, if you get money from sponsorship thanks to your popularity your behaviour should be in keeping . If you promote baby products you don’t want some one who thinks babies are stinky, noisy, nuisances. It might not be in the same league as a politician betraying their values but the principle is the same.

“Like athletes advertising food they wouldn’t eat?”

Toni ducks my attempt at a sucker punch (Ali would have been proud).

“Talking of food Nikita’s back from training and stuffing her mouth with lasagna”

Nikita After Training

Nikita Immediately After Training

Nikita, who has long since lost her reserve around my conversations with Toni leaps in, “It’s healthy lasagna. Whole wheat, celery, carrot, no sauce …”

Toni bounces back “But with plenty of cheese on top”

I wade in “You’ve got to have cheese, otherwise it’s not lasagna”.

“But you should she see her going for it”.

Nikita duly obliges:

Nikita Vs Food

Nikita vs Food

It feels like the good times are starting to roll again…