The Athens Olympic Games was the pinnacle of a long but frustrating international athletics career for Kelly Holmes. Her Double Olympic Gold triumph changed her life forever and fulfilled her second childhood dream of becoming an Olympic Champion.
Her first dream was joining the British Army which she realised at the age of 17; Kelly turned her back on an early athletics career to forge a successful military career and become a PTI in the British Army. She was later recognised for her services to the Military when she received her MBE after almost ten years’ service. However, she was inspired to return to the track in 1992, watching the Barcelona Olympic Games from her barracks room on camp, when she was surprised to see a former junior rival line up in the women’s 1500m.
The build-up to the Athens Olympic Games was the first year in seven, that Kelly wasn’t injured and she made the brave decision to double up in the 800m and 1500m, and the rest is history. She finished her illustrious career with twelve major championship medals from the Olympics, Worlds, Commonwealth Games and Europeans.
As well as her athletics achievements, she ranks one of the proudest moments of her life as receiving her Damehood from the Queen in March 2005. Since retiring from international athletics, Kelly has started a new chapter in her life in the business world; establishing her own company Double Gold and her charity the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust (DKH Legacy Trust). She has also been active in raising the profile of school sport up the political agenda. Kelly became National School Sport Champion in 2006 for three years and pioneered the creation of National School Sport Week. She also led the creation of Girls Active set up with the Youth Sports Trust to capture the interest of disengaged female teenagers.
Kelly fulfilled a personal ambition when she set up the DKH Legacy Trust in 2008, to create life chances for young people. The charity has successfully delivered programmes for hundreds of disengaged young people not in education, training or unemployment and given them a life changing experience.
In 2012 her charity received two big accolades firstly winning The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award and secondly Sport England appointed the Trust as a delivery partner in the new Youth and Community Strategy, to support young people ‘at the margins’ of society. A year later in January 2013, a huge investment was announced from Sport England with £6.9 million of national lottery funding over a four year period to fund the nationwide expansion of the ‘Get on Track’ programme.
Alongside the honour of being President of Commonwealth Games England, Kelly has a number of ambassadorial positions including her role as Patron of the Jaguar Academy of Sport. She also fulfils speaking engagements to the corporate industry sharing her stories of overcoming adversity, setbacks and desperation to finally achieve her lifelong dreams. In her limited spare time, Kelly devotes time to supporting her chosen charities the Laureus Sports Foundation, Hospice in the Weald and Sport Relief, alongside her own charity.
She has driven the development of the Kelly Holmes brand to market products, services and experiences to inspire what she is so passionate about; the pursuit of health, fitness, well-being and achievement in sport. Kelly is currently focussed on developing Kelly Holmes Education and Kelly Holmes Fitness. Working with local authorities, education establishments and corporate partners, Kelly Holmes Education delivers mentoring and education programmes across the UK. The programmes are aimed at young sports people who have the natural ability, talent, commitment and dedication to reach their full potential in sport. Programmes to date include Aviva ‘On Camp with Kelly’ which came to a formal conclusion in December 2012 after nine successful years, the Jaguar Academy of Sport Mentoring and Education programme and Isle of Man Sporting Excellence Programme.
Kelly Holmes Fitness began with the launch of a fitness clothing and equipment range distributed by Tesco in 2011, and now the brand is evolving into new areas of the industry. Kelly’s personal and business goals continue to evolve and her vision and energy has no bounds.