My Secret Life: Kriss Akabusi, 53, former athlete

'I wish I'd been born 20 years later'

Click to follow

The household I grew up in... It was fantastic. It was a children's home – [there were] people from all walks of life, very vibrant and colourful.

When I was a child I wanted to be... England's next centre forward and score a goal at Wembley in the Cup Final. But I would have settled for West Ham!

If I could change one thing about myself... I would have been born 20 years later and competed in the Olympics 2012. Nothing can compare to being good enough to actually compete in them in your own country. I wouldn't need to win; it would have been lovely just to compete.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at... walking my dogs at midnight in the dark, and missing all the trees.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... driving slow on motorways. I've got to be very careful because I drive big cars and they have a mind of their own.

I wish I had never worn... an imitation silk shirt with oriental dragons and tigers all over the back. It was the Seventies.

What I see when I look in the mirror... Somebody who's tall, dark and handsome.

It's not fashionable but I like... my fake silk oriental dragon shirt, that my ex-wife threw away – I've never forgiven her!

I drive... a Bentley GTC convertible for the summer, a Jaguar for my day work, and a Range Rover Sport for the winter.

My house is... my sanctuary. I've got a wing of a big country house in the middle of 70 acres of woodland.

My favourite work of art... Something that was commissioned for me, called The Diaspora series. It's five artefacts, five-foot tall, that depict the story of the African diaspora. They're by Chinwe Roy.

A book that changed me... I'd have to say The Bible. It's a no-brainer – it had the most fundamental bearing on my life.

Movie heaven... I really enjoyed Gladiator. I like the story about legacy and duty and the idea that there a few things you need to lay down your life for.

My greatest regret... Not learning French at school. There's something about the French language – it has a certain je ne sais quoi.

My real-life villain... I'm of Nigerian origin, so I'll say Sani Abacha, who had a hold on the country in the Eighties – but anyone who takes away freedom, liberty and happiness.

The last time I cried... When my dog died. You don't realise how close you get to your dogs till they move on.

What's the point? The point is that the other option is not worth contemplating.

My life in six words... It's been fantastic, enjoyed the journey.


Kriss Akabusi MBE was born in London in 1958. His parents returned to Nigeria when he was four, leaving him in care. He joined the Army in 1975, before moving on to professional athletics. He won three Olympic medals: silver in the relay race in 1984, plus two bronzes in the hurdles and the relay at the 1992 games. Since retiring, he has become a motivational speaker and television presenter. Akabusi has been working with Innocent, official smoothie sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics. He lives in the Chilterns