What did you enjoy most about being an Olympic athlete?
One of the best things was getting to travel all over the world. I lived in Australia, America and travelled all over Europe. When I retired in 2005, even though I love Wales, I really missed the travelling.
What was the biggest highlight for you?
Winning the World Indoor Championships in the individual 400m in Japan in 1999. When I rang my father Alan and told him, ‘Dad, your son is world champion’ he started crying down the phone. That meant even more than my gold medal.
You’re well known for your BAFTA-winning BBC TV documentary in 2014: ‘Looking For My Birth Mum’ which charts your personal journey to find your biological mum. Had you always longed to meet your birth parents?
Not really, no, because I had the most amazing childhood. My [adoptive] parents Marilyn and Alan were wonderful. They had a beautiful house with lots of land, so I used to run around in the fields and have all my friends over. It was a lovely Enid Blyton style upbringing with proper picnics! From a young age, I realised I was adopted for a reason, so before I even met my mother I knew there must have been issues.
What made you decide to look for your birth mum in 2014?
As I got older, having two children myself [Jay, 21 and Morgan, 13, from a previous relationship] I suddenly thought, ‘Well, I won’t be around forever’ and I wanted my children to know more about my history. In 100 years’ time when I’m long gone, I didn’t want my great-grandchildren to be looking at my medals, going, ‘But who were his mum and dad?’
How did it feel when Gemma from the agency After Adoption first told you on TV that she’d traced your birth mother, Teresa?
I thought, ‘Wow! Omigod!’ It was amazing, but then it was bittersweet because straight after the elation of hearing they’d found her, they told me she had terminal cancer and I was crushed. Even though I’d never met her, I thought, ‘This is my mother…’ It was very difficult to hear she only had six months to live.
How did it feel to finally meet your birth mother?
What the hell do you say after 41 years of not seeing your mother and then suddenly being reunited? When I first saw her she was sitting down and I quickly walked over and gave her such a massive hug it was like a rugby tackle! She called out, ‘Jamie!’ and I burst out crying because it hit me then, she was the one who’d named me Jamie. I turned into a five-year-old boy again. It was a very special moment. I also got to meet her daughter, my half-sister Jaya.
We’re so sorry to hear Teresa passed away recently. How did you build a relationship with her after the documentary?
I used to go down to Devon to see her and I arranged for her to stay in a hotel near me a couple of times. We had a good laugh together and we spoke a lot about our reunion, saying, ‘If the reason we met is to change the face of adoption in this country, that’s our legacy.’
Since the programme, so many people have come up to me and said, ‘I decided to adopt become of you’, or ‘I traced my birth parents because of you’.
I know Teresa was very proud to have met me and find out her son was an Olympic medallist. My dad Alan said to me recently, ‘Jamie, you probably gave her an extra year of life’ because of the celebration of meeting me again. [Teresa lived a year longer than doctors predicted.] I feel very lucky that I got to know her.
You made a second BBC documentary: Being Jamie Baulch: The Search For My Birth Dad, but sadly in the end the man they found turned out not to be your birth father. How did that feel?
It really killed me. I was so disappointed because so many details matched: the name was identical, he was from the same area of Jamaica as my father, he liked football, he’d been in the army, but then it wasn’t him. [A genetic test from the man’s brother proved Jamie wasn’t his son.] It’s all very puzzling. I felt like I’d opened Pandora’s Box. Now I’ve stopped actively searching for my father, but if someone comes forward then great.
You have your own branding and PR agency, Call Bruce, run by your partner Cheryl and your fitness and nutrition coaching service Team Avengers. How did you and Cheryl meet?
We’ve known each other for 10 years because our kids were at the same school. She used to go jogging past my house and one day I asked if I could come with her. We were friends for years then finally got together in 2013. She’s amazing, a real lighting bolt! She loves fitness too and she got me to run my first marathon with her.
What can we expect from your new column for The Lifestyle Library?
I’ll be sharing my tips on everything from health, fitness and nutrition, to the best gadgets and how to stay motivated. At 43, I’ve been through a lot, both good and bad, so I’ve got plenty of advice to offer. I can’t wait!
Watch Jamie’s powerful documentaries on www.jamiebaulch.com