Friday, February 19, 2010


Kelly Holmes
From JCCM UK Ltd

The incomparable Kelly Holmes
By R. Garner at P Base

Kelly Holmes was born in April 19, 1970 in Pembury, Kent, the mixed-race daughter of Derrick Holmes, Jamaican-born car mechanic, and an English mother, Pam Norman. Her mother, only 18 at the time of Kelly's birth, would marry painter and decorator Michael Norris two years later, whom Kelly regards as her father, and they had four children together before divorcing. She grew up in Hildenborough and attended Hugh Christie Comprehensive School in Tonbridge, one of the only black children on her estate.
Holmes started training for athletics at aged 12, joined Tonbridge Athletics Club, where she was coached by David Arnold and went on to win the national schools' 1500 metres in her second season. Her hero was British middle distance runner Sebastian Coe, and she was inspired by Coe's succesful 1984 Summer Olympics defence of his 1,500m crown. However, Holmes later turned her back on athletics, joined the British Army at the age of 18, having left school two years earlier, working initially as a recreation assistant and later as a nursing assistant. In the army she was initially a lorry driver in the Women's Royal Auxiliary Corp, later transferred to the Adjutants General Corps as a physical trainer, reaching the rank of sergeant. She also became British Army judo champion, and in army athletics events once competed in the men's 800 metres at a meeting, as it was considered that for her to run in the women's event would be too embarrassing for the other competitors. At another event, she competed in and won an 800 metres, a 3000 metres and a relay race all in a single day.
Holmes watched the 1992 Summer Olympics on television, and seeing Lisa York in the heats of the 3,000 metres, an athlete whom she had competed against, and beaten, decided to return to athletics. For several years she combined both athletics and her employment in the army until increased funding allowed her to become a full-time athlete in 1997.
Dame Kelly Holmes is one of Britains most recognisable and admired athletes. She has won Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European medals, and added the ultimate sporting trophy to her cabinet at the Athens Olympic Games Double Olympic Gold. Kelly, however is not only known for her medals and records, but is known for her gutsy, committed approach to her athletics and her ability to overcome injury and illness and still stay at the top of her discipline. Her strength and courage has won her many fans both within the sport and outside of it.
(TMC Speak Out)

From femalefirst
As a little girl she loved to run with her dog . By the time Kelly Holmes was 12 she was training at the Tonbridge athletic club in Kent, and winning championships, running as she always would, on her toes. But there was no money in her family to go on and train, so when she was 18, Kelly went into the Army, driving 4-ton trucks and training as a PT instructor. There she won races against men. In 1992 she decided that she had to give running one more try. The Army agreed to give her an easier commission, and she made her international running debut in 1993.
Fast forward, through years of running, winning, becoming injured and not winning. She had always been outgoing and very confident, but she sustained a series of injuries that would have devastated other athletes. Through it all, she kept training.
In 1997 injuries devastated her chances at the World Championships. Four years later injuries confined her to just six weeks’ training before the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She managed to win a bronze in the 800m, but her determination to win despite pain and injury was reaching a dead-end. Now turning 30, Kelly had only one Olympics left to win. Sally Gunnell, a Barcelona gold medalist observed that “She never stopped believing she could do it.” But Kelly had other problems. She disliked criticism; she lost her cool under pressure; she made the wrong decisions while running; and cared too much what other people thought. Her problems sound familiar to at least a few of us. Holmes faced them, and faced the fact she had to change. She made a daring move.
The decade's great 800m runner was Maria Mutola of Mozambique, who had dominated the race for a decade. Kelly began working with Mutola's coach, Margo Jennings. She moved to South Africa, and into Maria Mutola’s house. Enduring the speculations of the press about their relationship, she trained with focus and determination. Her motivation was simple: “I don't ever want to live with regrets that I never gave my athletics 100%.”
In August, she travelled to Athens for the 2004 Olympics. In an unexpected move, she decided to run the 800-metre as well as the 1500m at the 2004 Olympics. Mutola and Ceplak were favored, and took off fast from the start. Kelly set, and kept, her own pace. Then she drew on her reserves of energy, unleashed all her powers, came from behind to race into the lead ahead of Mutola and took the gold. She had run what Sebastian “Seb” Coe later called a “perfect race.”

Holmes makes her move on Mutola
By R. Garner at P Base

The finish of the 2004 Olympic women's 800-meter run
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Pure delight
Kelly Holmes celebrates after crossing the finish line
800m at the Athens Olympics

Holmes can't believe her 2004 800m triumph

From Athletics Superstars

On August 28, Kelly ran the 1500-metre race. Again she maintained her pace, not an easy discipline when the entire field is running away from you. She was at the rear of the field when she drew on her reserves and raced ahead to take the lead in the final straight, holding off the Russian world champion and accomplishing the rare feat of taking a double gold.

Photo by Stu Forster

Photo by Mike Hewitt

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey

Photo by Andy Lyons

Photo by Stu Forster

Photo by Michael Steele

Photo by Michael Steele

Photo by Ian Waldie

Women's 1,500 metre final
Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games
Tatyana Tomashova of Russia came second
Maria Cioncan of Romania came third
Photo by Ian Waldie
All images (above) from Getty Images Sport

"Life changed straight away," Holmes said. "I went back to my room after the race and even my room-mate, Jo, who I've known for years, said, 'Have you changed?' Everyone expected that winning would make me a different person, so they treated me differently."
Her memory of life immediately after gold was of people stopping and staring as if they couldn't quite believe what they were seeing. People wanted to shake her hand and take pictures of her. Once she got back to Britain, the interest escalated still further.
"There was the parade through my home town from Hildenborough to Tonbridge. I said to my mum that it would be really embarrassing if no one turned up, but there were 80,000 people."
She went on to Parkinson and received a standing ovation, then Cruise, one of the guests on the show, called her up to invite her to his film premiere. "Mum said I couldn't go because I was tired and didn't have anything to wear," she recalls with a smile.
She had a train named after her and won a collection of awards and accolades from around the world. By the time she won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December, she had 26 major awards in her cabinet. Then, there was the Damehood. "Mum just couldn't believe it; she still can't. She says things like, 'But you're just you, just Kelly. This is mad'. It is, but it's been fun."
(Alison Kervin, Chief Sports Interviewer, Telegraph Media Group Limited)

Commonwealth Games - Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
1500 m gold medal
European Championships - Helsinki, Finland.
1500 m silver medal
IAAF World Cup - London, England.
1500 m bronze medal
European Cup - Birmingham, England.
800 m silver medal

1500m Commonwealth gold
9th September 1994
© of George Herringshaw &

Women's 800m final at the McDonald's Games
Sheffield, England, September 1994
Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images

World Championships - Gothenburg, Sweden.
800 m bronze medal
European Cup - Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.
800 m gold medal

Bronze medallist in the women's 800m
5th World Athletics Championships
Gothenburg, Sweden in August 1995
Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images

European Cup - Madrid, Spain.
800 m silver medal
European Cup - Munich, Germany.
1500 m gold medal
6th World Athletics Championships - Athens, Greece.
1500 m gold medal

Women's 1500m
6th World Athletics Championships
Athens, Greece in August 1997
Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images

Commonwealth Games - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1500 m silver medal

British 1500m record in 1997
Commonwealth silver in '98
© of George Herringshaw &

Summer Olympics - Sydney, Australia.
800m bronze medal

Tremendous performance
800m bronze in Sydney
© of George Herringshaw &

European Championships - Munich, Germany.
800 m bronze medal
Commonwealth Games - Manchester, England.
1500m gold medal

Flying the flag
Women's 1,500m final
2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester

World Championships - Paris, France.
800 m silver medal
World Indoor Championships - Birmingham, England.
1500 m silver medal
Summer Olympics - Athens, Greece.
800 m gold medal
1500 m gold medal
In addition to these achievements, Holmes has also won 12 national titles.

Dame Kelly Holmes
From TAMBATH University of bath

When Kelly Holmes retired in December 2005 it was fair to say she had ticked all the boxes. Olympic 800 and 1500 metres champion. BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Created a Dame by the Queen at the Palace. What had she missed? Having missed an Olympic 800m medal by a fraction of a second in 1996, when she had suffered a stress fracture during her preparations for the Games, she returned to the Olympic forum four years later similarly hampered by physical problems. Yet despite having been injured for six months of the year, she claimed an improbable bronze in the Sydney Games 800m which, she promptly declared, was "her gold medal". Some people might have read that as being a sign that she had settled for not achieving her ultimate ambition. Four years later in Athens she proved any such assumption to be seriously flawed as she became the first British athlete for 84 years to win two golds at the same Olympics.
(David Meller at

Russell Cheyne, Daily Telegraph
Holmes' look of wide-eyed shock as she crossed the line in the 800m, apparently unable to take in the fact that she had become Olympic champion, is an image that has now taken its place in the history of the Games alongside the beatific smile of Ann Packer as she won the same title for Britain in 1964.
"Most people thought I had a chance of a medal in Athens, but no one thought I was going to get gold. Ten metres before the finish line in the 800m I remember saying to myself 'relax'. In training I'd always made sure that when I got to that point I started relaxing because in any final that I've been in at the Olympic Games it's always been that last bit where everyone was fighting – even in Atlanta I got pipped on the line for fourth, we were so close, all of us – and I thought to myself, 'You win and lose in the last 10 metres'.
"I remember being neck and neck with Maria Mutola, who was the defending champion and obviously a formidable athlete. When you are next to somebody like that you can easily be dictated to by the way they are, and you start getting tense. And I just remember when I said that word, 'relax', it was at that moment that I took that extra one step that put me ahead of her. Obviously the others came in close behind, but that was where I took the step that won me the race. I remember crossing the line first, but it was like, 'There's no way...'"
(David Meller at

Honorary degree of DUniv (Doctor of the University)
From Chancellor, Lord Wakeham
From Study London

Dame Kelly Holmes MBE
The fruits of her 2004 Olympic success
Getty Images at

Since that glorious Athenian evening, Kelly has continued to bring honour and credit to her sport. She was appointed National School Sports Champion and has enjoyed real success in increasing the amount of PE and active sport in the schools.
She has designed and promoted programmes to support the development of gifted young sportsmen and women. And she carries the credibility of an athlete whose own career - despite being distorted by injury and plagued by ill fortune - represented the ultimate vindication of spirit, endurance and towering talent. She was created a Dame in 2005 and more recently was elected President of Commonwealth Games England. In short, she is something more than a mere heroine; she has attained the status of national treasure.

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