While the easy smile, twinkling eyes and positive mantra about reaching one last Olympic Games make Ashia Hansen's company a hugely enjoyable experience, the cross shaped scar on her left knee tells a different story.
The 36-year-old triple jumper was at the Mailbox on Monday, looking resplendent in Harvey Nichols' latest summer collection but as she sat cross-legged on the sofa to reveal a little more than her come back plans, X marked the most painful of spots.
Four years on her troubles seem so far away, though she admits now the difficulties she currently faces in qualifying for Beijing stem from the sickening dislocated patella that has blighted her career since June 2004.
She has not competed outdoors since July 2006 and is starting her latest return on the back of a hamstring problem that wiped out last season and 'small issues' with her Achilles and knee that have hampered her preparation for this, surely her last as an elite athlete.
"There have been many times when I have been in tears because it's been so hard," she admits. "In the past I could never have imagined putting myself through the things I have had to.
"But then I was that much fitter and I had had a lot of background work before training, so it didn't hurt as much."
Hansen is used to pain. She is able to list the twists, tears and tweaks that have ravaged her limbs as though she is reading from a prepared script because they are as firmly fixed in her brain as the scar is to her knee cap.
Indeed she almost takes pleasure in the reaction her gut-churning recount induces. Hansen was one of the best triple jumpers in the world when, competing for Britain at the European Cup in Bydgoszcz, she landed in the pit and her life turned upside down. The deep-vein thrombosis that followed as a result of the flight home, could have killed her.
"When I got injured, I immediately noticed the leg shrunk. The muscles just stopped working. It was just like a lump of jelly. I flew home and couldn't bend my knee because the tendons were detached. If I bent it the knee cap would have disappeared again. I spent the whole time on the plane with a doctor trying to massage my leg so I didn't get a DVT. Unfortunately I did and it wasn't until a few days later when I went down to hospital in London that I realised I had it.
"I was complaining of small cramps in my calf, they scanned it and told me I couldn't have the operation for another two days. I was carrying around this gammy knee for a few days.
"It was life threatening because they were worried it could travel up my bloodstream and into my heart. They gave me an anticoagulant to try and shrink it and there was talk of putting something in me to prevent it from travelling further up. Fortunately in stayed in my calf and I managed to get rid of it."
The road back was as long as the one that could take her to Beijing. Those Achilles, knee, hamstring, toe, quad and calf 'issues' have never been completely resolved and now - having missed all of 2007, she is now back at the beginning, minus the base conditioning that meant she was able to jump 13 plus metres, on one leg.
It is only now, after having her lottery funding withdrawn, she concedes the lengths to which she went to retain her backing were not in her long term interests. She could have done with the complete break she has now enjoyed.
Never one to describe herself as '100 per cent fit' she is at least niggle-free and will re-turn to competition in a relatively anonymous events in Hania, Crete on June 7. From there she hopes to make it through to the European Cup in Annecy and then on to the Olympic Games.
She is now focused on a different X marked spot - the one 14.20 metres from a take-off board that will earn her a plane ticket to China. "It is too far out there for me to even contemplate getting a medal," she says.
"Training does not suggest I am in medal shape but you never now what happens on the day. I have been there many times. I am just thinking qualify, get to the final and then top eight.
"What's kept me going? I love doing what I do. Kelly Holmes managed to carry on because of the love of it. She had goals to meet. She is one tough cookie.
"Would I describe myself as that? I am very strong willed and don't give up easily, possibly as easy as I should in some cases. Being injured when I was has made me a lot stronger.
"You certainly know who your friends are when you get an injury like that. I have come out of it with a good head on my shoulders."
True, but her knees don't look too clever.