Dame Kelly Holmes, Double Olympic champion, motivational speaker and all round inspiration.
Kelly specialised in the 800m and 1500m events and won a gold medal for both distances at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She set British records in numerous events and still holds the records over the 600, 800 and 1000m distances. Holmes founded the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, a registered charity to support young athletes and help the lives of people facing disadvantage across the UK.
We were lucky enough to have her join us on ITV’s Bear Grylls: Mission Survive in 2015, total dedication to the challenge and we’re featuring more of her story here...
What was the path that lead you to today?
Having a dream to be an Olympic Champion from the age of 14, gave me the focus to map out my journey and reach that goal.
Who inspired you to do what you do?
My Physical Education teacher at school believed in me and helped me to believe that I could be good at something, and that was running. I was also influenced by watching the Olympic Games in 1984 and wanted to follow in the footsteps of Sebastian Coe who won the Olympic 1500m title as I was already a 1500m runner from the age of 12.
What has been the biggest obstacles you have encountered?
Injuries, depression and the loss of my mother.
Injuries were a threat to my career and when that’s all you believe you have to contribute towards a positive life and career it can feel devastating to be out of control.
Depression hit me out of the blue to the point of self harming. That changed my life and the way I view pressure and ambition. I knew that having a dream was the light, that fighting through it was the strength and that never giving up was the achievement that would one day pay off and it did.
Losing my mother in August 2017, was the hardest part of life I have ever experienced as she died too young. My heart is still broken and I know I will always have a hole in it. Everyone has a different relationship with their parents and their family. My mother went through a lot during her early days to keep me and I realise that her being my birth mother was a bond that no one can break. I miss her everyday.
Winning two Gold medals at the Olympic Games in Athens. A 20 year dream. A 12 year senior international running career and rollercoaster ride of a journey and I did it.
Finding my charity the Dame Kelly Holmes and supporting 300,000 disadvantaged young people around the UK and helping to transition over 500 sports people in their transition from world class sport. It makes me feel very proud to have invested time, money and commitment to this cause and all the other charitable work I have done, which has seen me win a Beacon Award for Philanthropy.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Never give up without giving it your all. Everyone should be given an opportunity to fulfil their talent and it can take one person to have a life changing effect on someone else.
What helps you get through each adventure and why?
Focus, motivation, support and opportunities without which nothing is possible.
What scares you and how do you deal with fear?
Water! You should know this Bear. You chucked me out of a bloody helicopter and I nearly drowned on Mission Survive. I thought my life was over. I have never been so scared in my life. I am not sure I deal with this well to be honest, I just avoid the fear, however watch this space one day I may just try and learn to swim - Properly!!! I knew that having a dream was the light, that fighting through it was the strength and that never giving up was the achievement that would one day pay off and it did.
Why is getting outdoors so important in modern life?
Fresh air helps you have headspace which is very important for your mental health. It creates interesting adventures and has many ways of keeping your brain and body active.
Which has been your most unforgettable adventure and why?
Mission survive. I survived!!
Who has been an unsung hero in your life?
My phyiso Alison Rose who is now a great friend, confidant and helped me to my Olympic wins. All the coaches, teachers and parents who give children that extra support to fulfil their talent
What's next for you?
I currently do a lot of public motivational speaking and would like to do a lot more. I am an advocate of pushing the need to have more awareness of Mental Health Issues in the workplace and amongst teenagers. Personally I am getting back into the fitness industry to try and inspire and motivate as many people as I can to feel good about themselves in mind and body.
Do you have a motto you live by?
Drive forward, Don’t reverse.