The Athletes at EIS

The challenges of drugs cheats, irresponsible organisations and our attempts to explain PPPB  has meant that there have been limited training updates this week.

This means you’ve missed out on one or two of gems that regularly pop out of Toni’s mouth. Time to set the record straight.

First, his appraisal of the humble roller, which, I must confess I hadn’t really given much thought to until I happened to call Toni mid coaching session and mid flow,

“What is it with the nations obsession with the roller? No you don’t use it first. Why? What do you use a rolling pin for?”

There is silence on the other end of the line from whichever athlete is the target of this line of questioning so I try and help out, “Rolling pastry?”

“Yes. Rolling pastry flat. Compressing it.

It’s like a massage. And when do you do that?”

“After a workout?”

“Yes, after a session”.

A voice that may or may not be Nikita chips in, “Maybe it’s the placebo effect”.

“Placebo effect! Jog for 8 minutes, do your stretching, workout and then you can use the roller. If you must”.

I picture a group of athletes clinging onto their rollers like Linus with his blanket.

Toni won’t be getting a job with the shopping channel just yet.


I can’t resist asking, “How do you warm up?”

Toni grunts, “I find breaking wind and a stretch is good enough for me”.

Can’t say fairer than that.


Dr. in the House

Jess has been refining her high jump technique.

jess high jump

I’m intrigued by the springboard, “Any chance of introducing the spring board into competition?”

“If only. It would make things a lot easier”

“Talk me through it”.

“It’s simple really. It helps with timing and reduces pressure on the legs. She did shot put, hurdles and gym after that so we wanted to stay fresh”.

“She’s flying”.

“Yeah. 2.20”.

“Dr. Richard approved”.

“Yeah, who needs a coach”.

‘Well this is Dr. Richard we’re talking about”.


Toni tries his Hand at Being Johannes Stotter*

It’s not unusual to be speaking to Toni on the phone and then be drawn into a live coaching session. Here’s a typical example.

We’re discussing the ongoing issues with the IAAF and their decisions concerning Russian athletes when,

“Stop pulling that bloody lead arm past your body. Stop it. Stop it now otherwise you’re in trouble… how far through the set are you? Start it again”.

Toni adopts a strong Irish brogue whilst invoking a range of deities, “ What are you doing with your knee? That’s not your knee. Your hip and foot are different. Look, it goes here and back”

I’m forced to picture the scene, “Nice accent but what are you doing?”

“It’s Alicia’s technique. Has anyone got a sharpie? You have? Thanks”

“Why do you need a Sharpie?”

“I’ll send you a photo.

Stroke your knee. A stroke requires contact. No that’s your thigh, that’s your kneecap. Right, hold still”.

From my side of the call it’s all starting to get a bit surreal.

“That’s better… if you yank it goes behind, drops shoulder and rotates … struggle to get right foot forward. Bring your hand through in the right way and you’ll see the smiley faces”.

By this point I’m completely lost, “Shall I call you back?”

“Yeah. I’ll send you the photo”.

Here it is.


I’m not sure any other coach would be so effective with a sharpie. The coach as artist? Maybe one for another day.