He is a member of the London-based Belgrave Harriers athletics club and has been for much of his career.
Despite his successes he has at times been accused of inconsistency and of failing to fulfil his potential. His championship record since 2008, especially his gold medal at the 2009 World Athletics Championships, has addressed these criticisms.
Idowu was born to parents of Nigerian origin. He grew up in Hackney, in East London, and describes himself as "the clean-cut black guy who used to dye his hair all them crazy colours and who's now got these studs".