Food milestones - Amy Williams
The winter Olympian on her mum’s special macaroni cheese, dietary restrictions and her obsession with honey.
Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams, 35, started her sporting life as a 400m runner in her hometown, Bath. While studying at university, she switched to the skeleton sled, which is essentially a tea-tray that hurtles down a frozen track at 80mph. She went on to represent Great Britain at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and won gold in the skeleton race. Her triumph saw her become Britain’s first solo Winter Olympian in 30 years, the first woman champion in 58 years, and also set a double track record in the sport. Following her success, she was awarded an MBE and named Glamour magazine’s Sportswoman of the Year.
Since retiring as an athlete, she has become a television presenter and commentator, and taken part in the adventure shows 71 Degrees North and Alone in the Wild. In 2015, she married Craig Ham, who is in the army. They have one son, Oscar, and live in a village outside Bath.
My mum would make all of our bread, so we had fresh rolls for our lunchboxes.
She would never buy cakes or biscuits – if my brother, sister and I wanted something sweet at teatime we had to make it ourselves, so we were always in the kitchen baking! My dad – a chemistry professor at Bath University – would play with us in the garden and take us out for Sunday afternoon walks. All of my siblings loved sport at school, and I started training with the athletics club.
Mum is the cook; I haven’t seen my dad cook anything more than beans on toast.
Her speciality is macaroni cheese, which I used to request before I went away to compete. She'd make a massive one with a crisp topping, and add tuna and random things like boiled eggs.
When I was a competing athlete, I was really strict with myself.
Whatever went into my body had to help me win, and if I was going to train all day in the gym, I only wanted to fuel it with good stuff. I would eat at least five times a day and added plenty of vegetables and protein to each meal. Like any athlete, I wanted to eat within five minutes, so I wouldn’t slave over a dinner. I would often make a quick stir-fry in my wok, avoiding packet sauces to make it healthier, and supplementing my diet with protein shakes. I wouldn’t eat desserts or chocolate. I didn’t have alcohol. When I missed out on competing in the Turin Olympics in 2006, I became even more determined. I didn’t drink anything, even if it was a party or a wedding, and I would go to bed at half-nine every night.
I met Craig on Tinder in March 2014.
I’d just returned from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and my friends persuaded me to get myself a date. We chatted on the phone first, then went to the Hall & Woodhouse in Bath the next day. I ate, he didn’t. I remember I had pigs in blankets, and it wasn’t even Christmas. We got engaged after three months: he proposed at Victoria Falls, so Africa is a special place for us.
The first meal I cooked for Craig was probably one of my bog-standard stir-fries.
I enjoy making lasagnes too, but if I get more adventurous than that, everything goes wrong. I’ll half follow a recipe and then go off on a tangent. We had a disaster once when we had a load of friends round for Sunday lunch. Craig was making Yorkshire puddings: I directed him to the wrong flour – gluten-free or coconut – and we ended up with solid biscuits. No one could eat them.
Oscar refused to drink from a bottle, so I was still breastfeeding him at eight months.
He's on solids now, so I mush up vegetables and cook him a basic spag bol before making it more flavoursome for Craig and me. I would like another child at some point but, because there’s a chance that I could have twins (my mum’s an identical twin and my sister Ruth and I are non-identical), I want to make sure Oscar is more of his own little person first.
I'm obsessed with honey.
There’s a whole shelf of different types in my kitchen. My friend’s mum makes her own in Scotland, so I have a pot of hers, and a friend from Botswana brings honey whenever he comes over – it really smells of the African bush. I’ll buy even more when I go to a farmers’ market!
Food heaven? Honey!
And hell? Chilli. I don’t like spicy food. I order a korma when we have an Indian takeaway.
Favourite celebrity chef? Mary Berry, because she’s from Bath too. I saw her at the train station one morning and I really wanted to say, 'I'm a massive fan', but I wasn’t brave enough.
Describe yourself in three words Emotional, adventurous and loving.
Your ideal weekend? I would go horse riding, then borrow some dogs and go for a dog walk with my little family. I'd top it off with a movie.
Dream dinner party guest? Marilyn Monroe, because I used to watch her movies and sing her songs all the time.
What did you have for breakfast today? I skipped breakfast because I was rushing over to my mum’s to pick up Oscar, but normally I would have scrambled eggs on toast with avocado and a coffee.
Favourite tipple? I like a mojito, a nice glass of red wine and a Monkey 47 gin. I'm not a big drinker, but we discovered Monkey 47 at a friend’s wedding and it’s amazing with Fever Tree tonic and a slice of plum.
Finish this sentence: I am most happy when… I'm sat on the sofa with my little boy, Craig and our rescue tabby cat, Captain.