Asked who the fittest MP was, Symonds laughed. “No comment – I might make a few enemies if I get it 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. He switched to cycling in Delhi four years later. “Basically I was told I was too old for triathlon,” he recalled. “So I decided to focus on time trialling.”
With mixed success. At last year’s world time trial championships in Flanders, Belgium, Symonds finished dead last, 18 minutes behind the winner Filippo Ganna of Italy.
In his defence he was the oldest rider ever to compete at the championships and had paid £800 out of his own pocket to be there.
Training, he conceded, was difficult given his day job. “We work long hours,” he added. “Sometimes you can do 50 hours in a week, and train on top of that as well. That can be hard.”
Symonds commutes into work every day and rides out into Hertfordshire on his days off. “The Little Alps, as we call them,” he said. “The journey into work is about 12 miles. I use a hybrid commuter bike – Boris Bikes are too heavy.
“You try to work up a head of steam, but it’s not easy with all the traffic lights.”
Symonds, who joked that he preferred to park his bike at the House of Lords as it was “safer there”, said he loved his job, including the uniform. “Yeah if you see Downton Abbey, that is what we have to wear. One of those Edwardian evening wear.”
He may have finished well down the pecking order – 47th out of 54 finishers – but Symonds hit back at those who say amateurs have no place at the Commonwealths, arguing it is vital for smaller nations to gain experience at a major championships.
And he added that he was already eyeing up another outing in four years’ time, potentially with older son Jakub, 12, who was in Wolverhampton supporting his father along with younger brother Lukas, eight.
“Jakub is into his cycling and rides at LeeValley Youth Club. He does mountain biking at the moment. I am getting him ready so he can do some damage.”