Steve Ovett

If we went on holiday during the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games, we would take our portable black and white television with us.

Dad would lift the bonnet of the car and connect the television to the car battery, threading the cable through the window of the caravan.

I would watch Kathy Cook and Alan Wells through crackly reception, and then recreate the action, recasting my matchbox cars as the athletes and myself as the commentator.

I remember Phil Brown overtake on the last leg of the 4x400m, and Daley Thompson snap his pole.

But mainly I remember the 1500m. Sebastian Coe or Steve Ovett changing gear on the home straight.

I wanted them both to win, slightly favouring Coe at the time, and growing to appreciate Ovett later. The 1984 Olympics were perfect.

Now, I reenact the home straight on pavements, supermarket aisles and escalators, changing gears and overtaking unknowing opponents, commentating under my breath in the style of David Coleman.

And I have a bias towards anything with thin red and blue hoops on a white background. At home we call this chair Steve Ovett:

999

I’ve only ever dialled 999 for 2 reasons: when my house was on fire, and for an ambulance for my son.

I don’t remember much about the gap between dialling 999 and the fire engines arriving. Despite the smoke and the flames I never felt the situation was out of control. I quite enjoyed the thrill of it.

But I remember everything about the 8 minutes it took the ambulance to arrive the first time I called 999 for my son. I felt no sense of control.

Stanley was less than a month old. He had a hole in his larynx, although I didn’t know that then. He was clearly unwell, struggling to eat and breathe, but I never actually thought his life was at risk.

Doctors had reassured us. One had said “he’s not going to just stop breathing”.

Then he stopped breathing.

I remember noticing the panic in my body. Cold sweat and my heart beating. But I remember a sense of calm, doomed certainty too.

As his breathing became more shallow, I had called Gavin to ask if he could drive us to the hospital, as he had done before. I made the second call moments later, as Stanley’s skin turned from pink to blue.

And then those long 8 minutes. Holding my still, lifeless baby, waiting for the paramedics to arrive with their nebulisers and their oxygen.