Westminster bouncer Chris Symonds drives against Geraint Thomas at the Commonwealth Games


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

Chris Symonds was disappointed with his time of 62mins 56.79s at the 37.4km circuit around Wolverhampton – 16.5mins slower than winner Rohan Dennis – insisting it was far from the kind of pace , which he has raced in recent clubs time trials.

His preparation for those games consisted of commuting 12 miles each way from north London to the Palace of Westminster on a regular bicycle every day.

“I’ve been a bouncer for 20 years, since Gordon Brown and David Cameron were prime ministers,” Symonds said. “We’re keeping the doors to the Chamber to make sure people like you can’t get inside.

“I’ve refused entry to a few famous people, but I better not say who.

“The commute to work is about 12 miles on a hybrid commuter bike – you’re trying to get steam going, but it’s not easy with all those traffic lights.”

Symonds was greeted in Wolverhampton by local MP Stuart Anderson, who wished him the best of luck ahead of Thursday’s race, and he races with the likes of Finchley MP Mike Freer, although he didn’t want to know who the fittest politicians were.

“No comment,” he said. “I might make some enemies if I get it wrong.”

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

Symonds insisted his job is “never stressful” but does involve long hours, which will take up any time he may be training in the “little Alps” of Hertfordshire after riding one for the first time this season coach – Tom Kirk – worked together.

“I’ve had four course PBs this season,” said Symonds, who bought the £4,000 bike he rode at Wolverhampton himself. “So I would have liked to have driven better out there.”

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

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

Horton used to call Walsall home but raced in the colors of the Falkland Islands after moving to Port Stanley three and a half years ago to take on a role as head of immigration.

Chris Symonds with his sons Jakub (right) and Lukas (Sean Ingle)

“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 a Falkland Islander. It’s fantastic to drive 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 when he arrived in the paddock for his reconnaissance drive – all part of the way the four-yearly Commonwealth Games pits a range of amateur athletes alongside the elite.

“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 grand tours, the world championships, this is a home for both of them, I think it works.”

After collecting bronze, Thomas himself agreed.

“They say they’re friendlies, don’t they?” said the Welshman. “It was good to kind of mix with all sorts of nations. No disrespect but I’ve never heard of some nations so it was nice.

“It’s kind of weird when people come into the pen and ask for photos to compete against. But it’s a great atmosphere.” Westminster bouncer Chris Symonds drives against Geraint Thomas at the Commonwealth Games

Fry Electronics Team

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