From the moment Dawn Higgins could walk, she wanted to run.
She loved to race and constantly challenged people to sprint against her.
And when her dad first took her to Maindy Stadium in Cardiff at the tender age of nine, she was well and truly hooked.
From that moment, she trained hard and her raw talent and determination put her among some of the top ranking athletes in Wales.
Her dedication meant she spent all her spare time in tracksuits and running gear as she pursued her dream of reaching the top flight of athletics.
She was a high achiever, winning Welsh titles and breaking records over the 20 years she competed but was devastated to be left out of the Great Britain team for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
And, when she then found out she was pregnant with her first son Louis, she knew her time had come to hang up the spikes and concentrate on motherhood.
And now, she’s put that same energy and determination into writing her own fashion blog “dressmeperfect” which has already gained recognition awards from glossy women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan and Company.
And her message to women is simple – anyone can look good, no matter what age or shape.
And, though she misses the competitiveness of athletics, she is relishing wearing and writing about clothes and glamour.
The 37-year-old, from Cardiff, recalls: “As soon as dad took me to Maindy track, I was obsessed. That was it. I can remember that I always wanted to run instead of walking and I was always asking people for a race.
“I think running was a love I was born with… I can remember wanting to race everyone in sight from as young as five. I’d begged my parents to take me to Maindy and from that day I didn’t miss a session. I raced cross-country and track for years and eventually I found my love in sprinting and 400m.
“I didn’t stop running from that day and would do any kind of running, whether it was sprint, long distance, cross-country. Anything. I just loved it.”
Dawn was quickly chosen to compete around the country and started breaking records almost straight away in disciplines such as the 200m and 800m.
“I went to UWIC to study Sports Science as it was natural to do that with the passion I had for athletics. I was British Universities Champion, both indoor and outdoors and won the 4x400m relay at the World Student Games in Palma in 1999.
“ I ran for Wales throughout my career and have trained with and competed against some of Britain’s and the world’s best performing athletes.
“I was ranked top 10 in the women’s 400m back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, and number one in Wales throughout all the age groups in every distance from 100m to 800m.
“I trained for the 2000 Sydney Olympics which I missed out on by tenths of a second. My training partner at the time, Katharine Merry, went on to win Olympic bronze in the 400m.
“I found myself away most weekends competing and enjoying great times with some amazing people. I gained a bronze at the world student games and still hold records at stadiums and over 300m that have stood for 20 years.”
Dawn faced various funding issues in Wales, despite being the fastest sprinter in the country, and she is sad that she didn’t get to achieve her dream of running at the Olympics.
But then she was faced with a new challenge – bringing up a baby – and gave up athletics after getting pregnant with her first son, Louis.
“As soon as I had him I struggled to commit to the sport. My love to be with him was far greater. I’ve gone on to have another two children. Jay, who is nine, and has certainly inherited my love of sport, and Ava, who’s three.
“Having my daughter had a huge impact on me and inspired me to develop another love – fashion.
“I never really had the chance to explore or develop my love for fashion because I was so busy wearing tracksuits, but my love of fashion dates back as long as my love for sport.
“So back in February 2011, I found the world of blogging and thought it was time to unleash my passion and knowledge. It started as a hobby and went on from there. It’s just about my own personal style and I was really chuffed to be shortlisted in Cosmopolitan for best fashion blog and more recently won an award with Company magazine.”
Dawn has spent many years collecting designer pieces and absorbing styles from top designers and says she would spend hours collecting images from catwalks and editing them into beautiful collages.
“I have some beautiful documents from over the years where I put together statement looks and loves.
“Designers are producing beautiful pieces year after year helping us women look and feel amazing.
“My blog is all about celebrating how great women are looking in this new generation where age really doesn’t matter. I want women to see that style is not about looking a certain way. It’s about finding what makes you feel great.
“It doesn’t have to be hard or contrived. Some times we can be confused by fashion, and what’s supposed to be in or out and get bombarded with images, and dos and don’ts in the magazines and I think many women resign themselves to never figuring out what it is that suits them.
“I want to show people that it doesn’t have to be that way. I hope to inspire women and help them create their own style. I want women not just to desire a look but to wear it themselves with confidence.”
You can read Dawn’s blog at www.dressmeperfect.com