Alesha Dixon

Alesha Dixon

Champagne glasses were clinking, people were hugging, everyone was bursting with pride but also starting to look a little weary from what has been an epic non-stop two weeks.

On meeting Alesha, my first thoughts were how sleek she looked and how sweet, smiley and open she was with me from the world go. I could also sense a hardened outer layer, years of experience as a figure in the public eye was displayed through a firm handshake as we sat down to chat.

It was obvious why she had be picked to be part of the Team GB ambassador program, for being a source of inspiration, motivation and for her genuine passion for sports. I learned that it was a first visit for both of us to Team GB house and I managed to steal 10 minutes of her time to talk excitedly about the Olympics and about what she’d been up to.

So, what’s the connection with Team GB? I asked, not wanting to sound forward but I’m not sure many people had heard what she’d been up to in the lead up and during the Games: "Basically, a big group of us (David Walliams, Katherine Jenkins, Davina McCall, Dermot O’Leary, Will Young, Gary Barlow, Eddie Izzard and more) said let’s be Team GB ambassadors and ramp up the support and encouragement towards our greatest team in the lead up the Games.

"We’re all massive sports fans so this wasn’t hard for us, it’s like Christmas come early - it’s been great fun."

We only have to take a quick look around us to see such amazing support for Team GB all over the country. The sense of pride in London is overwhelming. "The whole nation has just been incredibly supportive. It’s been amazing. Everyone’s been amazing. It’s made us all so proud to be British.

"We can be a bit pessimistic at times; we’re quite good at moaning aren’t we? But when something like this happens, we show our true character. Our true character, I think, is to succeed, to do well, to make some noise and to be a country that is looked at as an inspiration to others. We have such great opportunities here. When we stand back and look at what we have, we realise we are very, very lucky."

In true Team GB spirit, Alesha has a fair few goals of her own. Having conquered the music world with Misteeq and growing solo career, proving she can handle new challenges by winning Strictly Come Dancing, judging Britain’s Got Talent for a second year running and now being an ambassador for Team GB, it’s clear Alesha is one busy girl.

So what’s next on your list? I asked with a half-smile as she surely hasn’t got time for anything else. "Well I’ll be back on BGT judging panel, I’ve also been back in the studio recording so hopefully I’ll have a new album out next year, I front Avon’s domestic violence and beauty campaigns as well as having just finished a new series for BBC 1 called Alesha’s Street Dance Stars for under 16s which starts this month. I also want to make some new documentaries and concentrate on developing my own show in 2013."

We both laugh at Alesha’s never ending to-do list as she insists she is also 'taking things easy and relaxing a bit' even though I find that hard to believe.

Having been a victim herself of media criticism and negative comments in the past, I was interested to hear Alesha’s thoughts on the recent comments made on Twitter about Zoe Smith, Rebecca Adlington and Tom Daley: "It’s such a shame if anyone has anything negative to say about any of the athletes, because for me, regardless of whether they get gold, silver or bronze, just the work ethic that goes into what they do and the years they spend working on their craft is incredible. They are heroes for all the young people around the country to look at."

Alesha speaks from experience and her words feel wise beyond her years. And what would your advice be today to anyone suffering from any criticism or low self-esteem? "Depending on your character, how you cope with and manage criticism can change... it’s difficult. I’d say, ignore the negativity, concentrate on the positivity, and know yourself and what you’re about.

"What you put out is what you get back in life. As a nation we should be proud of them, and encouraging them. You always get a small minority of people that try to be all doom and gloom of the party and say negative things but, that’s life. We should all know better than to let them bring us down."

"I had it too when I joined Strictly as a judge, I had a lot of controversy surrounding around me in the press but I’m really good at putting things into perspective.

"I try to look at it for it is. I wouldn’t take it personally because I know I’m capable of doing it. In life you have to have confidence in your ability. It’s just a comment, it’s a just a newspaper."

With the media glamorizing sports stars in advertising campaigns and in glossy magazines, do you think there’s a belief now that athletes are better role models than pop stars? "I wouldn’t say better. It’s just current; it’s on trend. It’s always been cool to be a sports star. Regardless of whether it’s an actor, pop star or athlete, it doesn’t matter.

"If it someone who is being successful and being a fantastic ambassador for Great Britain then that should be celebrated. I think these women are being celebrated for what they represent. I am a big fan of all of them. There’s something so beautiful about what they do. There’s so much magic about sport."

We are momentarily distracted by a sudden burst of cheering behind us near the Team GB big screen. If you could be an Olympic gold medalist what would your sport be? Alesha’s eyes lit up and she starts laughing at a vivid memory of when she was younger: "The 200m was my event! Last leg of the relay and the long jump. I was so excited when I got my first pair of spikes. That was really special to me."

With the closing ceremony sadly just around the corner, I had to ask the ‘what next’ question. What good things do you think we can take away from this year’s Games? "I hope people continue to care about sport and think ‘I could have a shot at doing that’. What I would hope for is that more young children look into sports and areas they hadn’t thought of before.

"What we don’t want is one of those anti-climaxes. That people don’t rush to the gym and then two months later give up on it; I really hope people take things up and stick to it. I hope the Olympics has been so big that it will leave a lasting impression on everyone."

Emma Gannon @girllostincity.

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