Hard Times

No stranger to adversity herself, Kelly grew up in a council estate in Kent with her single mum. She struggled at school, and felt like she wasn’t any good at anything. It was her PE teacher who spotted her talent for running, and encouraged her to focus, work hard and believe in herself. Kelly says that this was the turning point for her.

Career Change

Although her athletics career looked promising, at the age of 17 Kelly decided to put her running on hold in order to join the British Army. She was later recognised for her services to the Military when she received her MBE after almost ten years’ service. But watching the Barcelona Olympic Games from her barracks room on camp, she was inspired to return to the track in 1992.

The Turning Point

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. She became the first British female athlete to win both the 800m and 1500m, securing her place in history. She finished her illustrious career with twelve major championship medals from the Olympics, Worlds, Commonwealth Games and Europeans.

The Legacy

Kelly wanted to create a legacy from her athletics career that would benefit young people, believing every child needs a hero – someone to look up to and be inspired by. Sometimes, through no fault of their own, young people don’t have a role model, or the help they really need to be the best they can be. Kelly can recall her PE teacher at school, who told her she was good at running. She believes it can take just one person to change the course of a young person’s life.

That’s why, on the eve of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, she founded Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, with a vision to get young lives on track using the unique skills of world class athletes to engage, enable and empower.

After eight successful years as Chair of the Board of Trustees, Kelly moved to the position of President in May 2016.

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