State of the heart: At the school medical, when I was 11, my heart condition was discovered by the doctor. It was a leaking heart valve, which I still have. In my early days I wasn't allowed to do much, but if it doesn't hurt, you just carry on, and gradually I was allowed to play rugby and run once a year, at the school sports day. When I was 16 or 17, I would run about five times a year, for the county. I never trained. It was Chariots of Fire stuff: I didn't have the kit, I just turned up - and won!
Taking the Mikado: Here is an event which shows my complete lack of interest in athletics. When I was 17, I was one of the Gentlemen of Japan in the school production of The Mikado. This coincided with the evening of the English School Championships, in which I was asked to represent Hampshire. It was the premiere meeting, and a big deal. I chose to do The Mikado.
But is it Bart's? I wasn't academic, but I got A-levels in Maths, Chemistry and Biology. I didn't want to read any of them individually at university: I didn't want to be a vet, because I didn't fancy feeling animals' insides, and didn't want to look into people's mouths, which ruled out dentistry, so that left medicine - my father is a doctor. I passed Maths first time at Grade D, which was not high enough for Bart's Hospital, so I took a year off to retake it, and got a B. During this year I joined Southampton Athletics Club and won the European Junior Championships. I then was accepted at Newcastle, but changed to Southampton University.
Track record: I left university after the first term. I wasn't talented enough to train and do medicine. All my spare time was training, which I couldn't enjoy because of the work I should have been doing. My parents were wonderful, and there was no resistance. My father said: "Whatever you choose to do, I'll support it." A year later, I won the European 400 metres championship; I know the university was pleased, because I got a letter from them and, in 1992, an honorary degree. I don't regret giving up the degree at all: I got one anyway!Reuse content