There is a tangible difference in the mood as I walk into the training centre at the English Institute of Sport. This is not because there is an even larger crowd of children than usual enjoying their sports day (although there is). It’s because, on the straight behind the track that constitutes Toni’s daytime habitat, the support team has begun to assemble. It’s the first time I’ve seen Toni, Derry, Bricey and Steve Ingham all in the same place together. The ante is well and truly ‘upped’.

The Paparazzi are Here

everyone filming jess

All eyes and cameras on Jess

The banter remains but there is an uplifted level of attentiveness to every aspect of Jess’ work. The scrutiny is incredible. Toni moves between the team members, sharing comments, making the occasional derogatory remark (it’s mandatory in this environment) and constantly repairs to Jess. I think I’m witnessing short corners and free kicks on turbo drive.

Bio-mechanist Bricey is the man that can make you run faster and jump further. Work is ongoing to refine Jess’ long jump. As discussed in a previous blog there is significant (and no doubt exhausting) repetition. That said the more you scrutinise the detail, the more variance appears. It’s a like staring at a Grayson Perry tapestry. The more you look the more you see.

Attention to Detail


reviewing with bricey

Today is also the first chance I’ve had to chat to Steve Ingham. Following Toni’s comments yesterday concerning marginal gains I’ve struck lucky. This is marginal gains in action.

Steve has been supporting Jess’ physiological needs for over ten years which ensures they have created a successful method for preparing to perform at major competitions. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t space for fine tuning. Steve explains,

“The key is to minimise the exposure and impact to stress on Jess’ system”.

“What does that actually mean?”

“We look at everything from how she prepares for training to her sleeping patterns.”

“We look at everything from how she prepares for training to her sleeping patterns. The 800m is run at eleven in the evening when you’re body is normally winding down. That means we need to introduce afternoon sleeps, later mornings and later evenings so she begins to adapt”.

“Are there any major transitions between the training camp and arrival in Rio?”

“Not really, no. Jess quite likes structure and having a plan to follow”.

“What sort of plan?”

“We put that in place with flash cards to help her remember. There’s also adhering to the basics like hand sanitiser after handshake”.


Steve and Derry in Action

jess having massage

Steve delivers the debrief whilst Derry ‘magic hands’ Sutter works on Jess.

I comment to Toni that it’s good to see the team in action,

“They’re like a well oiled machine”.

Toni just looks at me and smiles. He knows.