Ultima modifica 6 Novembre 2015
We all know how powerful and resilient rugby players, both men and women, are. We know, too, that the Italian rugby team had a historic 22 -15 point win over Ireland in the Six Nations tournament at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on March 16th.
Devin Toner, a member of the Irish team, is one of these powerful sportsmen. Born on 29th June 1986, he is 2m.11 (6′ 11″) and weighs 124 kg (19 st 7 lb). I spoke to Devin on the topic of being exceptionally tall.
Devin, I want to thank you for accepting this interview and to apologise for zooming in on what you’re probably tired talking about: your height.
No, actually, I don’t mind talking about my height.
Tell me about your parents. Are they both tall?
My parents are quite tall but not overly. My dad is 1.95 (6′ 5”) and my mum is 1.77. (5′ 10”)
Do you remember when you first realised you were much taller than your classmates?
I probably first realised I was taller than the rest when I was around 8 or 9 and starting to shoot up.
Were you ever bullied, did you bully or were you a protector of bullying victims at school?
I was the farthest thing from a bully you could get. I was friends with pretty much everyone and I was nobody’s protector. Nothing ever really happened when I was around.
I’m sure you hear loads of wise cracks about your height, smart asses asking: “What’s the weather like up where you are?” How do you cope? Have you ever lost your temper over this?
At this stage of my life I’m well used to all the wise cracks so I just brush them off really. No one ever does it maliciously so I give them a bit of lee-way. I’ve been close to losing my temper a few times but so far have not.
How important an issue was height in your choice of career?
In relation to my choice of career my height has been my biggest advantage. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I wasn’t this tall as the primary asset in second row rugby line outs is height. It’s a bit early to think of a career when I give up rugby. I hope to remain involved in the sport which is really a fantastic environment to be involved in.
Tall people are the darlings of sport but their needs are not really given much consideration in day- to- day life. What are the biggest obstacles for you when holidaying, using public transport, shopping, visiting people’s homes and so on?
I really don’t make an issue of it in my day-to-day life to be honest because I’m so used to it. Flying would be a problem if I couldn’t get the emergency exit to stretch my legs but most times I can get it because I’m familiar with all the protocols.
We have categories like Shorties, Lefties, Fatties, Baldies, but no Tallies! Do you think people feel uncomfortable around very tall people?
I think some people do feel uncomfortable only because it makes them feel small but frankly I don’t think it’s a major issue. They usually just laugh at themselves when they stand beside me. They even ask for a photo with me!
Do your friends all tend to be tall people?
No, not at all, to be honest. My friends are just regular people of a regular height.
Have you done any clothes modelling?
No, I’ve never done any sort of clothes modelling
Have you any advice for adolescents who feel awkward about being very tall?
Talking to young people I tell them the sooner they embrace their height and welcome it the sooner that they’ll come to enjoy it and use it to their advantage.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I hope you enjoy a great year.
No problem Frances. Thank you.