It’s the day before the big competition. Given last night’s travelling dramas, including the loss of John’s pole vault poles I ask the obvious question. The response is terse,
“Not sure. Not heard yet”.
The missing poles make me feel tense, let alone Toni, so I change the subject and quickly.
“Not bad. Always a bit strange, first night in a different bed”.
I’m slightly disappointed that Toni wasn’t forced to share his room with a giant shot putter but, in the spirit of this blog, it’s probably best for his coaching abilities.
Despite all the conversations around John’s preparation I’m conscious that I have no idea about Gotzis. The town or the event. Toni slips smoothly into tour guide mode,
“What is Gotzis? It’s a town near the Swiss border. It’s fairly standard. Nice, but not really a tourist attraction. In the early 70s the Austrian national event coach, can’t remember his name, wanted to put on a meeting friendly to athletes. It was meant to be good for them. The focus was combined events. He chose Gotzis. It’s grown year on year to become a major event. The amazing thing is that half the town come out to support the event, help and volunteer”
“I feel like I’m there”.
“No need for sarcasm”.
“What about the rest of the day?”
“Today was the technical meeting”.
“Meaning the coaches and officials, along with a few translators get together to sort timetables, agree starting heights for the pole vault and high jump, who goes in which pool…”
“Sounds, err, intense?”
“It’s pretty dull. Most of the time you just listen and take notes. But every now and then you have to charm your way around a few people to negotiate on behalf of your athlete”.
“In what way?”
“You may think one particular pool of athletes is better for you than the one you’ve been allocated. You may prefer the bar height to start at 194 rather than 197”
“And how was that for you?”
The response is matter of fact, “We got what we needed”.
Here’s the text confirming it,
“Now I’ve got John’s number accreditation and it’s a matter of waiting until tomorrow”
“Gotta love waiting…”
“It’s not too bad for me. There are a few Brits around to catch up with and discuss protocols. John will be getting an early night after some light track work. I’ll probably socialise with a few coaches”.
Say no more. What goes on tour stays on tour.