House of Commons porter Chris Symonds disappointed in time trial

The first cyclist off the ramp in the men’s time trial at the Commonwealth Games was a 48-year-old rider from Ghana who spends his working days as a doorman in the House of Commons.

Chris Symonds was disappointed by his time of 62 minutes and 56.79 seconds on the 37.4km course around Wolverhampton – 16 and a half minutes slower than winner Rohan Dennis – insisting it was a little far from the kind of pace that he rode in the recent time trials club.

Their preparation for these Games was built around 20 kilometers round trip from North London to the Palace of Westminster every day on a regular bicycle.

“I’ve been a doorman for 20 years, since Gordon Brown and David Cameron were prime ministers,” said Syymonds. “We maintain the chamber doors, to make sure people like you don’t get in.

“I’ve already blocked some famous people from entering, but it’s better not to say who.

“The journey to work is about 12 miles on a hybrid bike – you try to recover, but it’s not easy with all the traffic lights.”

Symonds was greeted in Wolverhampton by local MP Stuart Anderson, who wished him good luck ahead of Thursday’s race, and he rides with the likes of Finchley MP Mike Freer, though he didn’t choose who the fittest politicians were.

“No comment,” he said. “I can make some enemies if I miss.”

Chris Symonds in his House of Commons uniform (Chris Symonds)

Symonds insisted his job “has never been stressful” but involves long hours, consuming the time he can spend training in Hertfordshire’s ‘Little Alps’, having worked with a coach – Tom Kirk – for the first time this season.

“I’ve had four PBs of course this season,” said Symonds, who bought the £4,000 bike he rode in Wolverhampton. “So I wish I had gone better out there.”

Symonds was born in London but qualified for Ghana through his mother. He competed in triathlon at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, but without a triathlon in Delhi four years later, he switched to time trial – the first Ghanaian to compete in both events.

Symonds finished 47th out of 54 drivers, one place behind 46-year-old Jim Horton.

Horton used to call Walsall home, but he raced in Falkland Islands colors, having moved to Port Stanley to take over as head of immigration three and a half years ago.

Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 – Day 7

Jim Horton cycles through the Falkland Islands, but is originally from Walsall (David Davies/PA)

“I’m a resident of the Falklands, but I’m proud to be from Walsall, proud to be from the Black Country,” he said. “Now I am an islander from the Falklands. It’s fantastic to walk there, there’s no traffic, no traffic lights, it’s just an open road. There’s a lot of wind, so it’s a really good workout.”

Horton found himself in the tent alongside Geraint Thomas as he arrived at the paddock for his scouting tour – all part of the way the Commonwealth Games puts numerous amateur athletes alongside the elite every four years.

“I’m sure I’m living the dream,” Horton said. “I think there’s a place for the Commonwealth Games, I think there’s a place for amateurs who train hard and get to the top of their game. I think this is the right place for it. I think there are other places for professionals, the big circuits, the World Championships, here is a home for both, I think it works.”

After collecting bronze, Thomas himself agreed.

“They say it’s a friendly game, don’t they?” said the Welshman. “It’s been good to mix with all kinds of different nations. No disrespect, but some of the nations I’ve never heard of, so it’s been cool.

“It’s kind of weird when you have people going to the pen asking for pictures you’re running against. But it’s a great environment.”

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