The first rider off the ramp in the men’s time trial at the Commonwealth Games was a 48-year-old riding for Ghana who spends his working days as a doorman in the House of Commons.
Chris Symonds was disappointed with his time of 62 minutes 56.79 seconds around the 37.4km course around Wolverhampton – 16-and-a-half minutes slower than winner Rohan Dennis – and insisted it was a long way off his pace run in the last club. time trials.
His preparations for these Games have been built around commuting 12 miles each way from North London to the Palace of Westminster every day on a normal bicycle.
“I’ve been a doorman for 20 years since Gordon Brown and David Cameron were prime ministers,” Syymonds said. “We’re keeping the doors to the chamber to make sure people like you don’t get in.
“I’ve blocked access to a few famous people, but I shouldn’t say who.
“The journey to work is about 12 miles on a hybrid commuter bike – you try to work up steam, but it’s not easy with all the traffic lights.”
Symonds was met in Wolverhampton by local MP Stuart Anderson, who wished him well ahead of Thursday’s race, and he is riding with the likes of Finchley MP Mike Freer, although he would not be drawn on who were the strongest politicians.
“No comment,” he said. “I might make some enemies if I’m wrong.”
Symonds insisted his job was “never stressful” but involved long hours, eating into what time he could train in the ‘Little Alps’ in Hertfordshire, having worked with a trainer – Tom Kirk – for the first time this the season.
“I’ve had four track PBs this season,” said Symonds, who bought the £4,000 bike he rode in Wolverhampton himself. “So I would have liked to have done better out there.”
Symonds was born in London but qualifies for Ghana through his mother. He competed in the triathlon at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, but without a triathlon in Delhi four years later, he switched to the time trial – the first Ghanaian to compete in both events.
Symonds finished 47th out of 54 riders, one place behind 46-year-old Jim Horton.
Horton used to call Walsall home but ran in Falkland Islands colors after moving to Port Stanley to take up a role as immigration chief three-and-a-half years ago.
“I live in the Falklands but I’m proud to be from Walsall, proud to be from the Black Country,” he said. “Now I’m a Falkland Islander. It’s amazing to drive there, there’s no traffic, no traffic lights, it’s just open road. There is a lot of wind, so it is very good training.”
Horton was in the tent next to Geraint Thomas when he arrived in the paddock for his accounting tour – all part of the Commonwealth Games road that pits a host of amateur athletes alongside the elite every four years.
“I’m sure I’m living the dream,” Horton said. “I think it’s a place for the Commonwealth Games, I think it’s a place for amateurs who train hard and get to the top of their game. I think this is the exact place for it. I think there are other places for professionals, they the big tours, the World Cup, this is a home for both, I think it works.”
After collecting bronze, Thomas himself said yes.
“They say it’s a friendly match, don’t they?” said the Welshman. “It’s been good mixing with all kinds of different nations. No disrespect, but some of the nations I’ve never heard of, so it’s been nice.
“It’s kind of weird when you have people coming into the pen asking for pictures that you’re fighting. But there is a good atmosphere.”