When asked who was the strongest MP, Symonds laughed. “No comment – I could make some enemies if I’m wrong.”
Birmingham 2020 is actually far from Symonds’ first competitive outing for Ghana. He first represented the West African nation at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in triathlon. Four years later, he switched to cycling in Delhi. “Actually, I was told I was too old for triathlon,” he recalls. “So I decided to focus on the time trial.”
With varying degrees of success. At last year’s World Time Trial Championships in Flanders, Belgium, Symonds finished last, 18 minutes behind winner Filippo Ganna of Italy.
In his defense, he was the oldest rider to ever compete in the Championships and had paid £800 out of pocket to be there.
Training, he admitted, was difficult given his day job. “We make long days,” he added. “Sometimes you can do 50 hours in a week and train on top of that. That can be difficult.”
Symonds commutes to work every day and drives to Hertfordshire on his days off. “The Little Alps, as we call them,” he said. “The journey to work is about 12 miles. I use a hybrid commuter bike – Boris Bikes are too heavy.
“You try to get up to speed, but that is not easy with all those traffic lights.”
Symonds, who joked that he preferred to park his bike at the House of Lords because it was “safer” there, said he loved his job, including the uniform. “Yeah, if you see Downton Abbey, we should put that on. One of those Edwardian evening wear.”
He may have finished well below the pecking order – 47th out of 54 finishers – but Symonds hit back at those who say amateurs have no place in the Commonwealths, arguing that it is vital for smaller nations to gain experience at major championships.
And he added that he was already looking at another outing in four years, possibly with older son Jakub, 12, who was in Wolverhampton to support his father, along with younger brother Lukas, eight.
“Jakub loves cycling and rides at LeeValley Youth Club. He is currently mountain biking. I’m getting him ready so he can do some damage.”