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Colin Jackson

Starting block: Colin Jackson got on the housing ladder as soon as he could

COLIN Jackson is an Olympic and Commonwealth medallist. His career as a 110m hurdler spanned over 20 years and he represented Great Britain and Wales. Colin began his career at the 1986 Commonwealth Games where he achieved a silver medal, aged 19. He won Olympic silver in Seoul in 1988 and set the world record for the fastest time in the 110m hurdles at 12.91 seconds in 1993. Colin is an ambassador for Everyone Active’s Sporting Champions scheme and mentors younger athletes in mental wellbeing.

Where was the first house you bought and what was it like?

I was 21, and it was close to Roath Park in Cardiff. It was a modest three-bedroom house and in great condition so I didn’t have to do much with it.

What were you looking for in a house?

If I was an athlete starting out now, I would probably want something swanky, maybe an apartment. But back then, I just wanted the security of having a home close to where I grew up. But nowadays for athletes, there are so many well-developed cities with good transport links, great facilities — there’s so much choice and that’s great.

Was buying a property important to you?

Having a home was always important and I wanted to accomplish this quite early on because it helped me establish myself. I bought properties in Wales, but I still lived in London for a while, but I was always fortunate to be able to escape to Wales whenever I could.

Was it difficult to get a mortgage as an athlete?

I was in a very fortunate position to get contracts and retainers and, as with everyone else, the mortgage will be based on your general income. So, if you get a sponsor, or a long-term contract, it’s advisable to try and get on to the housing ladder when you can. It’s great that athletes are supported in this way.

What advice would you have on buying?

Get the ball rolling! If it is something you want to do, speak to your nearest and dearest about it and find that support network to help you. It’s a long process, but it is so worth it!

Are you into buying property?

Yes. I now have two properties, both in Wales. I was told early on to buy property as soon as possible, which gives you time to pay it off.

What should a home be for your wellbeing?

Peaceful. I now live by the coast in Wales and it’s perfect. I get to wake up, see the sea and the rolling hills in Wales. Nature is a great way to find peace. I have an easy commute into London if I need to, but I much prefer being in Wales, close to my family. I enjoyed London for a little while but in 2014 I started to feel a bit stifled by the city and wanted to get out. I came to Cardiff on a weekend break with some friends from London, who all said how much they felt like it was being on holiday. It really hit home for me then. I wanted a place that wasn’t stressful, and Wales was where I wanted to be again. I moved back and have loved every moment since.

What is your home style?

Tidy and modern. I don’t mind if an exterior is slightly more traditional or old-style, but I like my interiors to be modern, open and spacious. I don’t like clutter. For me, a cluttered space is a cluttered mind, so I try to keep everything tidy and clean.

What advice would you have for those looking to start in sport, even if they struggle with their mental health?

Talk, talk, talk — do not clam up. You’re not the first person to feel like this and, it may be difficult, but use the people around you to ground you and help you through it all. Being an athlete is an honour, and the support of people around you, who love you, will be invaluable, whether it’s now or in ten years’ time, so really appreciate them. I struggled with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia as an athlete and it can hold you back. Only when I started to lean on my support system did it start to help.