"Football is not a matter of life and death, it is more important than that."
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Laura Trott and Jason Kenny, Michael O’Mara Books Limited, 2016 ISBN: 978-1-78243-796-3This excellent book tells the story of the careers and romance of Olympic cyclists, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny. Within each chapter material is arranged in sections giving Jason’s account and Laura’s on the same event. The juxtaposition of their different perspectives works well.
The book brings out the intensity of being an Olympian: “What we do well to forget is that life will carry on after an Olympics. It’s as if the world ends from the flame is extinguished”. Their approach to cooking serves as a practical illustration of this: “Laura and I stripped everything else in our lives back. All our food shopping was done online. When we cooked there was no standing over a hot store for an hour. We need to save every fibre in our legs and that simplified our culinary tactics: get it fried, get it eaten. While sitting down”. Even “walking” their dogs now involved sending them out to run around the fields on their own with the result that “they would wear themselves out, I would wear myself in”.
One often hears about the sacrifices athletes make. Katherine Grainger in her recent autobiography dismisses this notion, saying that she made choices not sacrifices. Laura Trott would agree: “I never truly felt I was missing out. I have chosen what I wanted to do. No one was forcing me”.
When Laura told her careers adviser she was going to be a professional cyclist, he replied: “that isn’t even possible. That’s not a proper job”. I remember Bernhard Langer saying that he had been told the same! Perhaps career advisers need to catch up!
Laura gives excellent insights into the role of a coach and the relationship between coach and athlete. She also writes about the unmentionable subject of how time of the month affects a female cyclist.
Jason refers to faith in an enigmatic way: “Every Sunday of my life I’ve gone to church. I still go now, to the local catholic one” but adds “I wouldn’t describe myself as religious. It’s just a little release at the end of the week, a little moment to yourself”.
Finally, the book gives the secret of a happy marriage, according to Laura: “We dealt with the other staple disputes in young relationships by arguing about them until I won”.