The story of Dame Kelly Holmes is remarkable for two reasons.
One is that incredible week at the Athens Olympics of 2004 when, running injury-free for almost the first time in her athletics career, she completed the golden double of winning both the 800 metres and the 1500 metres.
This alone is enough to make Dame Kelly an ideal sports speaker or inspirational speaker at your event.
The other reason, though, is her openness about the mental anguish she suffered before that enormous achievement. To go through what she did and triumph over such adversity makes Dame Kelly also an ideal motivational speaker.
Her winning moments at the Athens Games crowned a life-journey which had seen her leave athletics behind for a career in the Army, and then re-join the sport she loved when the new professionalism allowed her to make her living as a sportswoman.
Her double gold medal – and remember, she only opted to go for the 800 metre race at the eleventh hour – stands by itself as one of the great moments in the history of British athletics, indelibly lodged in the memory of those who witnessed it.
But it was even more than that. In the context of the evolution of British athletics in the first decade of this century, it marked a turning point. After Kelly Holmes, there was a belief that Britain could stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in track and field. The fine achievements of London 2012 and Rio 2016 owe a lot to her inspirational example.
All the more remarkable, then, when one realises what Kelly Holmes went through to reach such heights. She knew the talent she had but was often frustrated by injury and this in turn made her put herself under immense pressure. The year before Athens, an injury suffered in training threatened to derail her plans to compete, to such an extent she plunged into clinical depression. She has been searingly honest about how, at her lowest, she deliberately harmed herself for every day she was injured.
The sheer belief and strength of character by which she fought her way out of such depths to become a true world-beater and an example for generations of young athletes, make Dame Kelly Holmes the perfect keynote speaker on mental health issues or guest of honour at your event. She has a sparkling personality, warm and witty and inclusive. She would provide your guests with a rare insight into what determination coupled with skill and ability can achieve.
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