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Colonel Dame Kelly Holmes is a British icon and inspiration After joining the army at seventeen, she cemented her place in history as the first women ever in Great Britain to win two gold medals at the same games at the Athens Olympics.
Dame Kelly Holmes joined the British Army at seventeen, serving for nearly ten years as a qualified HGV driver and Physical Training Instructor.
During a twelve-year international career, Kelly won multiple medals at the Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic level, culminating in two Gold Medals at the Athens Olympics Games for the 800m and 1500m, which cemented her place in history as the first women ever in Great Britain to win two gold medals at the same games.
Today Kelly is a Global Inspirational Speaker, an award-winning author, as well as championing fitness, wellness, and mental health. She continues to be President of the charity she founded, the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, which supports disadvantaged young people using the unique skills of world-class athletes to engage, enable and empower. For this she won a Beacon Award for philanthropy.
Kelly was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment. She became the first person to be attached to a regular regiment as an Honorary Colonel, which was required to be signed off by the Queen.
Since retiring, Kelly was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of York to add to the twelve others she has received.
In an emotional and powerful documentary called Kelly Holmes: Being Me, she came out publicly as a gay woman. Kelly explained how after thirty-four years of fear, she finally feels free to be her authentic self and wants to use her voice to educate and inform on Diversity & Inclusion matters.
In her autobiography Kelly Holmes: Black, White & Gold, she reveals the times she fought back tears to battle against injury and win gold, plus the emotional decision she made to retire from athletics. Running Life: Mindset, fitness & nutrition for positive wellbeing, was the winner of the Telegraph Sports Book Awards Sports Health & Fitness Book of the Year, and in Get Your Kids Fit: The parents' guide to healthy, happy, active kids, Kelly combined her knowledge of fitness and love for children in a guide to keeping kids active.
Kelly was awarded an MBE in recognition of her services to the armed forces and honoured with a Damehood for her services to sport.
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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 Ella O'Kane
JLA Speakers Breakfast
Dame Kelly Holmes interview