My Secret Life: Denise lewis, 39, athlete


Click to follow
The Independent Online

My parents were... I grew up with my mum. She was very, very organised, a bit of a disciplinarian. We were like a little team, more like big sister, little sister.

The household I grew up in... It was a terrace house in Wolverhampton.

When I was a child I wanted to be... an athlete. Though my earliest memory is that I wanted to be a nurse.

If I could change one thing about myself... Do I have to change something? I like me.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at... dancing. I'm not a bad cook either – I do very good roast lamb.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... I'm a bit of a control freak. I've been told I micro-manage!

I wish I had never worn... There have been a few horrors. I know my mum would wish I had never worn the body paint [Lewis once posed topless, painted with a Union Jack], but I actually quite liked it.

What I see when I look in the mirror... I see a relatively attractive young lady that loves life.

My favourite item of clothing... My Belstaff jacket and boots I love. But I do have some wonderful dresses that make me feel fabulous when I wear them.

It's not fashionable but I like... Boris Johnson.

I drive... I have a great bike, but it's a racing bike, really. I drive a Jaguar.

My house is... nice – cosy, comfortable and very, very clean.

My favourite work of art... It has to be my kids' artwork, otherwise if my daughter reads this she will not be impressed. I have to rotate them because I have three kids. I keep getting caught by the three-year old putting the old ones in the bin...

A book that changed me... Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was very important in my teens.

My favourite building... The Natural History Museum. I love it, especially when it's illuminated in the evening.

Movie heaven... It's got to be The Shawshank Redemption. I feel inspired every time I watch it – and I've watched it umpteen times.

My greatest regret... Not agreeing to go out with my husband the first time round! It was about four years [before I agreed].

My secret crush... Idris Elba. I think he's gorgeous.

The last time I cried... Watching the news and the atrocities in Syria; it was more than I could bear.

What's the point? Life is for living – you've got to embrace new challenges.

My life in six words... "Be the change you want to see." I did it in seven!


Denise Lewis OBE was born in West Bromwich in 1972. She joined the Birchfield Harriers athletics club at 13. At the Sydney 2000 Olympics she won a Gold Medal for Britain in the heptathlon. Since retiring from athletics in 2004, she has worked as a pundit for the BBC and appeared on Strictly Come Dancing. Lewis is an Olympics ambassador for the 2012 Games and is also supporting the launch of the Dettol Power and Pure range. She lives with her husband and three children in Buckinghamshire

Denise Lewis is working with Dettol to support the launch of the new Dettol Power and Pure range. For further information and to win a chance to meet Denise visit