May 13, 2021
From running to the shops in Jamaica to wrapping himself in the Union Jack, the Olympian has had phenomenal highs and bruising lows. He looks back on an extraordinary life in athletics
Linford Christie: Britain’s fastest ever sprinter on race, patriotism and persistence
Linford Christie’s Olympic training unwittingly began many years before he began to take over the world, 100 metres at a time. As a child, he spent seven formative years in Jamaica’s most populous parish, St Andrew, where his grandmother, Anita, would send him off to the shops with a cunning technique to ensure that he came back promptly. “She’d spit on the floor and say: ‘Don’t let it dry before you come back,’” laughs Christie over Zoom. “She was most probably my first coach.” Christie has no recollection of ever getting in trouble upon his return, an indication that even in those days he ran like the wind.
What he does remember is the warmth of life in Jamaica. The family home seemed to be vast, filled with sisters, his brother, cousins and aunties. The community was so tight that if he got up to any mischief, family Friends would not hesitate to keep him in check. In Jamaica, his grandmother was in charge. “Growing up, she was everything,” he says. “She was the mother, the doctor, the dentist; you name it, my grandma covered it.”
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