For 11 years, Britain’s Colin Jackson was the world’s fastest man over the 110m hurdles. Born in Cardiff, Wales, in February 1967, he has an incredible ancestry, with Jamaican Maroon and indigenous Caribbean blood mixed with Scottish.
His commitment to helping people fall in love with sport earned him, in 1990, an MBE for services to athletics, in 1999 he was promoted to OBE and in 2003 became a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Jackson is a legendary athlete both in Great Britain and internationally, having won silver at the Seoul Olympics in his favourite discipline, the 110 metres hurdles, and is also a three-time World Champion, two-time Commonwealth Champion and was unbeaten at the European Championships for 12 years. Seeing the second Wings for Life World Run dwarf the first one would be the cherry on a cake that is his incredible career.
Being a former world-class athlete, what’s more exciting: Competing yourself or organising the whole thing?
COLIN JACKSON: Quite frankly – the latter. I really think of myself as a team player and when you succeed, you want to share it with as many people as you can. Probably that’s why I played cricket when I was younger – a good old English sport – because I was part of a team.
Do you miss competing?
JACKSON: No. My body could have probably done it for some more years, but my competitive spirit to perform on a high level is gone. But that’s what you need when you must raise your game event after event after event.
What was the toughest moment in your career?
JACKSON: Some victories that should have happened but never did.
JACKSON: Olympic Games, definitely. When you’re a big favourite in a competition and it just doesn’t work out for you, you get pretty annoyed. Because there is one thing you can’t do: turn back the clock.
And the best moment?
JACKSON: I don’t think there is one specific moment. There are many different things. Retirement was a big moment. I felt pride that I was confident to step away from something I was really good at. And to do that at a time when I was physically still fit enough to win medals – I think that’s a brave decision to move away then.
The Wings for Life World Run is one of the few competitions where some of the world’s best compete shoulder to shoulder with amateurs. Do professional athletes live in a bubble?
JACKSON: Absolutely! I used to call it the track-and-field fantasy land. Nothing’s really real. Everywhere you go, you meet people with god-like physiques. The way you travel and are treated is not normal. Events like this one really link professional athletes with amateurs.
How big is the itch to sneak out of Global Race Control here in Spielberg and compete?
JACKSON: It’s definitely there. Being on site is just an amazing feeling. People’s emotions when they achieve something they never thought they could.
We are sure you have done the maths. How far would you make it in the Wings for Life World Run?
JACKSON: I reckon it would be around 16km.
That’s a run of a bit more than 1½ hours before the Catcher Car would pass you.
JACKSON: (laughs) Yes but possibly even less. I would spent way too much time talking with people on the way. If I would stick with a good group I could probably go 23km.
If there’s one advice for people running on May 3, what would that be?
JACKSON: That’s easy – have fun!