Sharron Davies Interview

Former swimmer Sharron Davies, 49, won two gold medals at the 1978 Commonwealth Games and silver at the 1980 Olympics. She is now a sports commentator. Sharron is separated and has three children, Elliott, 18, Grace, 13, and Finley, five.

I’m commentating for the BBC so I’ll be the first person the British swimmers speak to when they come out of the water at London 2012. When I interviewed Becky Adlington at the Beijing Olympics after she won two gold medals, I was crying my eyes out, because I was so thrilled for her. I can’t wait to see what Team GB can do, and the atmosphere is going to be amazing.

My dad coached me when I was a kid and he pushed me hard. I fell out of a tree when I was 11 and broke both my arms, but Dad made me train with my arms in casts for three months. He was tough, and I felt like I was being forced to swim, rather than wanting to do it. But Dad wasn’t being malicious; he just really wanted me to win. He has since apologised for pushing me so hard and we’re fine, but I was determined not to push my own children like that. I wanted them to learn a musical instrument – even if it was badly – and to have a go at different sports and activities. As it turns out, Ellliot plays rugby, Grace is into netball, and Finley is trying everything.

My family went without so much so that I could swim. My father gave up his job, my mum didn’t get her new washing machine, and we didn’t have summer holidays because all the spare money was going into me, and I couldn’t miss training during the summer months. So when I won an Olympic medal it was a way of saying thank you to my family for all those sacrifices.

I’m turning 50 this year and I’m happy with my life. I’m a single mum, but I have good relationships with my exes. I feel younger, because I had my children quite late – I was 45 when I had Finn after eight rounds of IVF.

I have never made plans in life. When I retired from swimming in 1994, I didn’t have a grand plan to reinvent myself as a TV presenter, but when the opportunity came up I grabbed it, and I’m so glad I did.

I’ve learned a lot from my three marriages. They all ended for different reasons, but I think that men of my generation find it difficult to deal with successful women. I remember going to an event with my second husband Derek and his name place said “Mr Davies”. He didn’t speak to me for days. I’m glad my sons will grow up with a very different attitude.

I’m happily single since I split from my third husband Tony three years ago. I’d like to grow old with someone, but I have stacks of friends, and I don’t see why I can’t grow old with them, instead of a husband. In a perfect world, it would be nice to have that happy ending, but I’m not fixated on it.

In the past, I have tried all sorts of stupid diets. I tried grapefruit and soup diets, and diet shakes, but my weight just yo-yoed. For a year I was completely wrapped up in food, and it was only when I went back to sensible eating and exercise that the weight came off and stayed off. I still drink too much Diet Coke, and I can’t have a cup of tea without a biscuit, but I don’t obsess about food. I work out in a gym and don’t swim much these days, but when I’m on holiday I’m always in the water. The pool will always be my place.

Sharron will be tweeting poolside during the 2012 Olympic Games. You can follow her at twitter.com/sharrond62

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