Here’s Toni’s itinerary for the next few days:

Thursday a.m – Training

Thursday p.m. – fly from Manchester to Prague for IAAF World Combined Events meeting in Kladno, Czech Republic

Friday – Day One Decathlon

Saturday – Day Two Decathlon

Saturday late pm – fly from Prague to Manchester. Drive home to Sheffield

Sunday a.m. – drive from Sheffield to Manchester for the Northern Athletics Senior & Under 20 T&F Championships

Monday a.m. – Meet Mark and me in Loughborough

Strap in for the ride. Treat this as a ‘transition’ blog.

Toni waiting for the train

The first time we speak Toni is sitting on a station platform waiting for his train to Manchester Airport and he’s telling me about his afternoon with England Squash. Toni is regularly called in by different sports and businesses to talk to them. Remember snooker?. From the looks of the group photo at the end at least he got them smiling.

Toni at England Squash

Although it may not necessarily relate to Rio, or even Prague, I feel duty bound to share his Sheffield adventure from last night. It’s best in his own words,

“You won’t believe what happened to me last night.”

“Go on”.

“I got stuck in a lift.”

“Go on”.

“My partner had to deliver a parcel in a slightly rough part of the city so I said I’d go with her. It’s near the top of a block of flats so we took the lift. It jammed between the fifth and sixth floor”.

“Let me guess. About forty degrees heat and smelling of urine?”

“You’ve been in it before? Anyway, I’ve only got 2% charge on my phone so I’m trying to get hold of the fire brigade whilst she’s constantly jamming the alarm button with her finger. And she’s not happy at all”.

“I wonder why. Stuck halfway up a tower block in a boiling hot lift that smells of pee. With you for company”.

Toni laughs, “It wasn’t very funny at the time. Eventually the Fire Service called me back to say a team was on the way but they had a request”.

“Which was?”

“Stop hitting the alarm. Their dashboard kept lighting up like a Christmas tree.”

It may just be my warped sense of humour but I decide to hold onto that image. Come to think of it I never did find out if the parcel was delivered.

A tannoy announcement cuts into the conversation. Toni jumps,

“It’s here, I’m off”.

“Safe trip.”


Spikes? Check. Poles? Check. Prague? Czech.

After Swissair’s disastrous missing pole vault poles saga John travelled on Wednesday and is already in Prague accompanied, thankfully, by said poles. Easy Jet delivered as promised.

The flight for Toni, followed by the trip to the Hotel was fairly uneventful.

Toni waits for the plane

Toni's Czech Beetle

Well, apart from a Stag Party from Rochdale who had dressed the Stag as Pamela Anderson from Baywatch. No David Hasselhoff in sight.

“Manage to get a single room?”

“In the same hotel as John, yes”.

“Is that a surprise?”

“Normally the only options are sharing with John and I snore so I don’t want to spoil his sleep during competition,” he pauses, “or with another coach”.

I ask the question as to why this wouldn’t have been a good idea. The answer is almost certainly slanderous so I’ll let you use your imagination.

“Besides”, says Toni, “on my own I can do what I want, I don’t have to mind my p’s and q’s. I can wander around the room naked”.

Up to you if you use your imagination on that one.

“Good luck tomorrow. Sleep well. Clothed or otherwise”.