This is piece about the challenges as a head coach has some actually humor as well. Thanks, Stuart Weir.
A day in the life of Christian Malcolm…
It is not easy being the GB head coach. You have to select teams for events (that is the easy bit) and you have to meet the press to discuss your selection. Such “Media opportunities” (the official term) remind me of that very British Parliamentary institution, Prime Minister’s Questions, the weekly opportunity for Members of Parliament (MPs) to ask questions of the Prime Minister. MP gets to ask one question followed by a supplementary. The opening question is often “What are the Prime Minister’s plans for the afternoon?”, which solicits a bland reply like “I will have meetings with colleagues” then the MP for Oxford asks his real question “When will the Prime Minister come to Oxford to see how COVID is ruining the local economy?”
At the Media opportunity with the Head Coach, the media politely listen to the Head Coach’s prepared statement about his team for the European Indoors. The media play the game and ask him a polite question or two about his selections.
Then we get down to business.
Question: KJT is injured how serious is it?
Head Coach: I want to talk about the athletes we have selected, not the ones who aren’t going to the event.
He is asked the question again and informs the press that “she has picked up a bit of an injury”.
Q Would she have done the Euros Indoors if she had not been injured?
A That is a question you should ask her.
Q Is the injury to her take-off leg?
A I’m not 100% sure. [An odd reply when any answer has a 50% chance of being right!]
The Head coach assures the media that KJT is focused on the end game, the Olympics.
He is then asked if the injury will affect her chances at the Olympics. He talks around the question but doesn’t answer it. With the subtlety of a bull in a china shop, the media skillfully ask the same question again – twice – and still don’t really get an answer.
Proceedings are interrupted when someone rings Christian’s doorbell rather loudly, Christian apologizes explaining that he has no one to answer it. It is another sign of the cost cutting at British Athletics that the Head Coach no longer is allocated a butler to answer his door.
We return to KJT with a suspicious member of the media asking the Head Coach “Is there something you are not saying?” He replies that there is nothing he is not saying!
Now that the KJT situation has been clarified we can move on. Let me just summarize what we now know: one or other of her legs is injured and she may or may not have been intending to compete at the European Indoors.
We now move on to the question of spikes, shoes and how one interprets times. The Head Coach begins by telling the media that he is not an expert on technology and that as an athlete he found that shoes were always getting better.
The Head coach is then questioned about what he learned from the weekend selection events – a risky question almost on the subject we have been convened to discuss -, training for the Olympics in the midst of a pandemic, why his door-bell is still ringing, whether he had tried to persuade Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie to go the Europeans to improve the medal count (he hadn’t) and how he was getting on recruiting his team of coaches (interviews last week).
Then we had another shoe question which he side-stepped quickly – couldn’t see on the video conference what shoes he was wearing.
There a short relapse into talking of members of the team for Torun before we return to KJT’s health – which seemed not to have changed from 10 minutes earlier. But “Is there something you can’t tell us?” [Please not that this is an entirely different question from the earlier: “”Is there something you are not saying?”]
He was then asked for his assessment of British Athletics 3 months into his tenure – cf the president’s first 100 days and the state of the union speeches.
As we nearedthe end a question was framed: “I know it’s difficult for you to answer this but is it disappointing that GB has not been able to put on any high-level events this year?” Reply: You are right it is hard for me to answer.
Finally, he admitted that the first three months in post had been a challenge and everyone when home happy for tea. And Christian was finally able to answer the doorbell.