The last time I went to China, I had tickets for a non-existent plane, was mobbed in the streets with Daley Thompson and saw very little of the country.

I'm expecting a very different experience this time, partly because it's 24 years on and partly because I'm not going as an athlete.

Along with four other British Olympians, I'm undertaking an 11-day fundraising walk along the Great Wall of China for the British Olympic Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the British Olympic Association, and my charity COCO,

As well as me, there's 400m runner Allison Curbishley, swimmer Karen Pickering, sculling silver medallist Guin Batten and bronze medal-winning high jumper Steve Smith.

Swimming bronze medallist Steve Parry was one of the original cast, but he has been filming a new series of Superstars and wimped out.

We fly on Friday and I've got one of my worst bits out the way already - packing. Allison gave me my first ever rucksack to take and it's the most impractical thing.

I don't get how to pack it and what should go at the bottom. All I do know is that I've got enough food in it to keep a small supermarket stocked and enough medical supplies to operate a small field hospital.

Great Wall of China

The trek itself will see us cover around 70 miles on the Great Wall and I'm really looking forward to walking it, although progress could be slow as it's not always the easiest walking and it's quite steep in places.

Smithy has been doing a bit of walking to get fit, but as I mostly run or ride a bike and keep fit at a faster pace, I know I'll have to try my best to be patient to keep everyone together.

We aren't staying in five star hotels by the way - we'll be overnighting with local villagers and although my Chinese is non-existant now, I'm not a philistine and I'm hoping to pick up a few words that will come in useful when I go back for the OIympics in August.

My mum is German and although I'm not quite as fluent as I used to be, I always try to speak the language wherever I go abroad.

Geography was my favourite subject at school and I hate going somewhere and not getting the chance to sample the flavour and culture of a country.

I didn't get much chance for that on my last trip to China in 1984 - it was just after the Los Angeles Olympics, where I won a silver in the 1500m.

I was there with Thompson among others and we didn't get out much - I remember going on a lengthy train journey to Nanching for a couple of days and being left at an airport with tickets for a flight which we learned didn't exist, leaving us to sort out a five-hour coach ride to replace what would have been a 45-minute journey.


And Daley and I were mobbed in Shanghai, partly because we were an odd couple back then - a man with blonde hair, and a black man - and partly because we wearing British tracksuits and they had watched us on television as the Olympics of 1984 were one of the first major sporting events to be shown inside the country.

I'm expecting a very different China this time as obviously a lot has changed in the last 24 years and I'm interested to see how the infrastructure of Beijing is coming along.

It's going to be a great chance for me to familiarise myself with Beijing and get my bearings ahead of the Olympics as we get a full day in the city, but I'm really looking forward to seeing a different side to the country.

Quite by chance I read the Life of Genghis Khan last year so I know a little about the history of the area and I'm going to enjoy going to a World Heritage site.

And I know we're going on an organised trip, but it will be nice to get away from the crowds and while it's not quite a holiday, I find it relaxing to walk.

Hopefully the technology we are taking will work and I'll be able to send back another report early next week. In the meantime, leave any questions and comments you may have below and I'll answer a selection.

By the way, there's one downer - I'm missing the Champions League final and if you want an omen, the last time Manchester United won the trophy, back in 1999, I missed that final too as I was working for the BBC elsewhere.

Steve Cram was talking to BBC Sport's Peter Scrivener

Steve Cram won a silver medal in the 1500m at the 1984 Olympics and is now a BBC presenter. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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