What age did you start training seriously?
I started daily training at the age of 14. When I was 16 years old I was running twice a day.
Where do you keep your Olympic gold medals?
No idea – my nephew borrowed them recently for a school project and I haven’t seen them since! I’m moving house, so I’m sure they will pop up again soon.
When you retired, how did it feel to stop training?
My motivation to compete was always about improving one year to the next. At 34, I realised I’d never run any quicker so why hang on? But I love running and still run along woodland trails and beaches every few days.
What role did you play in the London 2012 bid?
I chaired the bid with a small team working on strategy and lobbying. I was ecstatic when we won – to host the Olympics is one of the biggest opportunities in living memory. It will help change the lives of young people and transform east London.
What’s your advice to someone who wants to get fit but doesn’t know where to start?
It’s not about how much you do initially; it’s about how often. You can just do 10 minutes to begin with, but it has to become part of your routine.
Get the basics right: give yourself time, be honest about what you’re prepared to do, and pick an activity you can enjoy. I’ve coached people to run the London marathon from scratch in six months. I don’t think there’s anybody out there who couldn’t do that.
Have you kept up your fitness?
I don’t run as much as I’d like to, but I live in Northumberland so I’m out on mountain bikes a lot. I also have a rowing machine in the garage for dark winter nights.
Do you still have a competitive streak?
Yes – on the rowing machine, I make a note of what I do; it gives me something to work against. My son, who’s 16, is doing quite well in running and I’ve started to coach him. I’m setting goals for him but I want him to enjoy athletics. I’m not a pushy parent!
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