Armchair Chat with Colin Jackson
Former British Sprint and Hurdle Olympic Athlete, Celebrity MasterChef contestant and TV presenter.
The Olympic athletes would have been travelling to Japan at this time, had it not been postponed due to Covid-19. What do you miss most about the Olympic Games?
For me I miss the ambience of the Olympic village, the melting pot of people from around the world. I miss meeting new people and making new friends; friends who have remained friends for life. It has a real buzz that I’m not sure you’ll find anywhere else.
We’re obviously in unprecedented times at the moment. How do you think lockdown will have impacted the athletes who had trained hard to get to this point?
It’s really tough for athletes not being able to train properly during lockdown, especially if they do technical events. You can’t throw a javelin in the local park, for example! Staying creative in training will be important and doing stuff that keeps them generally fit as well as practically fit for the event they do is key. But understandably trying to manipulate their training schedules will be tricky.
How do you keep yourself fit and healthy now?
Throughout the week I’ll usually practice yoga, do some pilates, go for a walk, cycle, and do some strength training. I enjoy being active and will aim to have six out of seven active days. I think it’s this decision that helps me keep in shape.
During your time as an Olympic athlete, what did your diet consist of?
My daily meals were mainly a piece of fish or meat with a salad, followed by a yoghurt which I love. And that’s pretty much what I survived on.
Have things changed since those days?
I would say not really, although the cheat drawer is always full! One of my favourite dishes at the moment is a simple gnocchi dish with smoked sockeye salmon. I love the simplicity of fish, particularly smoked fish. To make this dish, I literally boil the gnocchi, add tomato puree and vegetable stock, some peas, bit of cream cheese and top with a couple of slices of smoked salmon. You can’t argue with it.
And do you know the thing I love about fish more and more is how quick it can be cooked. Wild salmon, in particular, cooks extremely quickly and that’s important for athletes who don’t have or want to spend time making their meals. Food is fuel and the cooking part of a meal is an inconvenience. You just want to eat. But now I enjoy cooking – I’ve been making loads of recipes and sharing them on Instagram during lockdown. But you can spend more time on the flavours and accompanying elements of the dish whilst the fish takes mere minutes.
As you know, our latest piece of research has highlighted that the majority of sports players and athletes have turned to junk food during lockdown. What are your thoughts on this?
The research doesn’t surprise me to be honest. When we have time on our hands, like everyone we tend to reach for things that make us feel good such as cakes and biscuits and sweet treats. We have it at our finger tips and it’s hard to say no. But those things are also the things packed with sugars and bad fats so it’s inevitable that they will eventually start taking their toll on any health or fitness regime.
When I was at my peak, I always tried to keep a limit on the amount of junk food I ate to keep focused on the long game – the Olympics and winning. I was disciplined…disciplined enough to have a cheat drawer that I opened only occasionally! But since then I think my attitude is that moderation is key.
The question everyone wants to know. What’s in Colin Jackson’s cheat drawer?
Oh…wine gums, crisps, toffees, chocolates, hot cross buns, biscuits. You name it!