Dame Kelly Holmes is one of Britain’s favourite athletes. During her career, she was funded by National Lottery players.
Kelly Holmes specialised in the 800 metres and 1500 metres events and won a gold medal for both distances at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She set British records in numerous events and still holds the records over the 600, 800 and 1000 metre distances.
She joined the army aged 18, qualifying as a sergeant. She also became British Army judo champion and once competed in the men's 1500 metres at the Army Championships.
In the final of the 1500 metres at 2004 Olympics in Athens, she came from the rear of the field to take the lead in the final straight, holding off World Champion Tatyana Tomashova of Russia, and setting a new British record. She thus became Britain's first double gold medallist at the same games since Albert Hill in 1920.
Subsequently, Holmes was given the honour of carrying the British flag at the closing ceremony of the games, on 29 August, the day after her second victory. A homecoming parade was held in her honour through the streets of Hildenborough and Tonbridge on 1 September, which was attended by approximately 40,000 people.
She was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British in 2005 for services to athletics. In 2010, Holmes was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2018, she was made Honorary Colonel of the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment, a unique honour. In May 2009, Holmes was named as the president of Commonwealth Games England, succeeding Sir Chris Chataway, who had held the post since 1994.
Since retiring, the athlete has opened up about self-harming and depression. She has launched a new podcast - What Do I Do? Mental Health and Me, and advocates for the importance of talking and getting support. Kelly has also written a book, Running Life, which as awarded sports health and
She started the National Lottery funded Dame Kelly Holmes Trust to support other athletes who weren’t coping with retirement, encouraging them to mentor disadvantaged young people. They have recently launched the #21by21 campaign, aimed at encouraging 21,000 sports coaches and volunteers to become trained in mental health awareness by the year 2021.
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