Kelly became only the second woman to win both 800m and 1500m titles in one Games. Alongside her army responsibilities as a physical training instructor (and judo champion), she persevered through injury and illness before finally achieving her goal. She also became a rare female Sports Personality of the Year. Kelly has since written Black, White & Gold and the motivational guide Just Go For It. She talks about passion, compassion and courage.
A double Olympic gold medallist, Kelly Holmes became only the second woman in history to claim the 800m and 1500m titles in the same Games.
After winning the English Schools’ tournament, Kelly chose to pursue a career in the army, serving for almost ten years. She only decided to return to the track after watching athletes on television against whom she had competed in her schooldays.
A year later Kelly won a 1500m AAA race, followed by her first sub-two minute win in Oslo and then victory in the Commonwealth Games. Her career nearly came to a premature end at the World Championships when she limped off with a serious achilles injury. On the brink of quitting the sport she nonetheless fought her way back to form for Sydney Olympics. She recovered from illness in time to win at the Manchester Commonwealth Games and then earned the nation’s admiration with her remarkable achievement in 2004 in Athens (which also saw her named BBC Sports Personality of the Year.)
Kelly looks at the ups and downs of her career on and off the track. She considers what kept her going, and with humour and insight considers what it takes to achieve your goals. Drawing on her time with the Army as well as her athletics career she looks at effective team building as well as the importance of physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Awarded an MBE for her services as a British Army physical training instructor, Kelly has founded the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust to support both retired athletes and disadvantaged young people. She was an Ambassador for London 2012 and patron of several charities. She founded a multi-million pound programme for British women athletes, and even opened her own cafe in her home town in Kent. She is also author of a clutch of books, including Black, White & Gold and Just Go For It!: 6 simple steps to achieve success, and Running Life: Mindset, fitness & nutrition for positive wellbeing.
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Though she's only five foot two Kelly's infectious laugh, her bright personality (and her love of the group selfie) could fill a room twice over. The lightness of her storytelling makes you have to remind yourself that she suffered set back after set back before winning her two gold medals. It's her strength in the face of failure that makes Kelly so empowering. You won't just feel a sense of awe, you'll want her to be your best friend too. JLA Agent Caitlin McCartney
JLA Speakers Breakfast
Dame Kelly Holmes interview