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Whatever the motivation, the 53-year-old record-breaking middle-distance runner – perhaps the greatest that this country has ever produced – insists that his next big project after the London Olympics will be to investigate his Indian background.

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I don’t know exactly where he met mother but they courted and then got married sometime about 1927.’Detailed information about the young couple’s life in London remains somewhat sketchy, but there is no doubting that their racial pairing would have made them an unusual sight in a country that was still monocultural. They probably had to cope with a lot of hostility and not long afterwards my father returned to India.

The chairman of the 2012 London Olympics committee wanted to see for himself the former luxury hotel in India once run by his maternal grandfather and where his mother Angela spent her early childhood.

As he stepped into the dusty foyer of the now dilapidated but still imposing Marina Hotel in Delhi, there was no mistaking the emotional pull which struck him.

Perhaps it was the death of his parents – Angela died in 2005 and his beloved father and mentor Peter, last August – that has made him more curious.

Or maybe it’s just the natural passage of time that has sparked his yearning to find out more about his lineage.

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