Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Dame Kelly Holmes


Hard Times

As the only mixed race child growing up in her village in the early 1970s, things were tough for Kelly as a child. She was brought up by her White mother after her biological father left when she was just a year old. Kelly’s mum struggled to cope, being on her own and only a teenager herself, and Kelly found herself in and out of care homes. It wasn’t until her mum met her step dad that things gradually became more settled. It was a loving home, but the family always struggled for money. Very early on, Kelly learned to work hard for everything she had. It was her PE teacher at school who saw her potential, and told her she was good at running.

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 the DKH Legacy Trust, with a vision to get young lives on track using the unique skills of world class athletes to engage, enable and empower.
Inspired to take up running like Kelly?

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