You ask the questions: (Such as: Linford Christie, do you think that men's running suits can get any smaller?)

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Linford Christie, 39, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. His father moved to Britain soon after he was born, and his mother followed when he was two, leaving him in the care of his grandmother. When Linford was seven, his father returned to collect him. He became the Olympic 100m champion after winning the Gold Medal in Barcelona in 1992. He announced his official retirement from the track in 1997 and is currently coaching young British athletes.

I am a 13-year-old club runner from Southport who hopes to become a great runner like yourself. My favourite event is the 400m. What advice can you give me to help me achieve my ambitions?

Adam Chandley, Southport

My advice would be to try other events to find out what you really enjoy the most. It's difficult for a kid of 13 to specialise. I started off doing the long jump and the triple jump. The most important thing is to enjoy the sport. The more enjoyment you get, the harder you train and the better you will become.

Who do you most respect in the world, and why?

Laura Mayhew, Salford

Muhammad Ali. He brought media attention to the sporting industry. He paved the way for sports people to earn a living. In terms of his talents as a boxer, he's a "freak" - in every sport, one person will come along who is unique. He is to boxing what Michael Jordan is to basketball.

Who is your all-time sporting hero?

Steven MacGregor, Wiltshire

I didn't have any sporting heroes when I was young. My heroes were Superman and Batman. Sports people can't fly so I could never beat them. I really admire people like Jesse Owens, who came from now-here to somewhere, to make something out of nothing.

How does it feel to have become a sex symbol?

Kate Ashley, Sevenoaks, Kent

I didn't realise that I was, but it's nice to be appreciated. I hope women are attracted to me not just because I can run fast, but because I'm good looking and a nice guy as well.

Given that your life has been devoted to the things of youth - speed and athleticism - how do you face the prospect of old age?

Mr J Liddon, Chichester

I'm not afraid of death or dying as it is something I have no control over. I don't know where I'll be in 50 years but I have my own company and coach to serve me through old age.

What music do you like to train to? And relax to?

Joe Porrit, Hackney, London

In the gym, I listen to reggae or soul, anything with a good strong beat to work out to. While I'm running I can't listen to music at all. I relax to soft music, such as Mica Paris.

What effect did it have on you to get rich in your mid-30s when the sport suddenly turned pro? Do you feel bitter about all those years when you trained just as hard for very little reward?

Michael Myers, North

Yorkshire

It's always tough when you start out, the main thing is to have determination. To get rich was never my aim. I wanted to get to the top, to be a good athlete. Obviously the financial rewards go with this. I think that anyone who does a job just for the money will become bored out of their minds... unless, of course, you're Bill Gates.

What was the first major purchase you made after turning pro?

Zoe Harter, Amersham, Bucks

The first thing I bought was a semi-detached house in West London. I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.

My son idolises you and brought his copy of your biography for you to autograph. He treasures this - you asked his name and you posed for photos with my daughter. How much does this attention mean to you, and do you remember any of it?

Jane Chandley, Southport

This means a lot to me. I wouldn't be where I am today without the support of my fans. I'd be like a bird without wings. I love them all. I reckon I can remember 80 per cent of the people I meet. I'm really good at faces, but not so good with names.

What do you consider obsessive gym-visiting behaviour? How often do you go to the gym?

Sarah Davenport, Brighton

I go three times a week. As long as you enjoy it, I think you can go as often as you want. I don't understand how people get obsessed. It's not like smoking or taking drugs: exercise is good for you.

Do you regard yourself as vain?

Carla Stewart, Herefordshire

I don't regard myself as vain, but I do care how I look. I always make an effort with my clothes.

What's the worst hairstyle you have ever had?

D Parkinson, north London

I've had lots of different hairstyles, all of which were fashionable at the time. If they'd been really bad, I wouldn't have had them.

Do you prefer Dunlop or Michelin for your training tyre?

Danny Loader, St Helens

The tyre that I use for training is actually bigger than a normal car tyre. It weighs about 25 kilos.

Do you think men's running suits can get any smaller?

Timothy Morris, Redhill,

Surrey

If they did, they would be pretty uncomfortable. Puma designs all my running suits for me. I don't think the suit is that important: after all, it's the man inside the suit who wins the race.

Do you wax or shave your chest/legs for aerodynamic purposes?

Alex Leigh, Essex

Most athletes shave for massage purposes, not to help them run faster.

What other sports do you enjoy? And are you any good at them?

Mrs Evans, Chelsea, London

I don't have the time to play any other sports, and also I wouldn't want to risk being injured. I usually just play with the PlayStation.

How do you deal with women who flirt openly with you?

Susan Rackham, Bristol

It's been a long time, but I deal with them very carefully. I deal with each situation as it comes. At my age, no one flirts with me any more. I'd say you're only as young as the woman you feel.

What percentage of athletes do you think are taking some kind of performance- enhancing drugs?

Tony Clegg, Middlesex

If I knew the answer to that, I'd be a very rich man.

Do you ever run for the bus?

Sam Barcroft, Norwich

No, I never run for the bus - I'm too lazy. I have to save all my energy for the running on the track. I just drive myself around instead.

Has Colin Jackson ever beaten you in training?

Mark Taylor, Dudley

I don't train with Colin Jackson. I train with Darren Campbell, Jamie Baulch, Katherine Merry, Michelle Thomas and Frankie Fredericks. Everyone at training sessions is good at different things. Frankie is good at everything, he beats me all the time.

What would you say to John McVicar if you bumped into him tomorrow?

Matthew Steel, Newcastle

I would smile at him in order to acknowledge him, but I really have nothing left to say.

You are the greatest sprinter that has ever lived. Who would you say is the second best?

Mr Hunter, Edinburgh

There are lots of good sprinters around and I respect all of them. It's very hard work indeed. The training is the same for everyone, and everyone works hard at it, both men and women.

What goes through your mind just before the start of a race?

Amy Simpson (Brighton,

Sussex)

Go on the B of the bang.

For more information on Linford Christie, see www.nuff-respect.co.uk

Next Week

DAME SHIRLEY PORTER, FOLLOWED BY

MARY CHIPPERFIELD

SEND QUESTIONS for Dame Shirley Porter and Mary Chipperfield to: You Ask the Questions, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL, fax 0171-293 2182, or e-mail yourquestions @independent.co.uk, by 12 noon on Friday 21 May

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