Just when we thought we couldn’t get any more excited about the Olympics, ACHICA Living had the honour of interviewing sporting legend Dame Kelly Holmes this week at BT House, BT London Live. In our exclusive interview, the athlete talks about her double Gold-medal win for Britain at the Athens Olympics, the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, what she thought of David Beckham speed-boating down the Thames and how she likes to spend the weekend…
What did you think of Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony and what was your favourite part?
I thought the opening ceremony was fantastic. I think it really put Britain on the map by showcasing what we do. It was a very special event for everybody - it had so much going on that everyone was engaged in something.
I loved the Bond and Queen piece – I thought that was genius, and of course Mr Bean. And being part of the flame handover for the lighting of the cauldron was a real honour. As for David Beckham speeding down The Thames on a boat – he has to get his part! [Laughs] That was quite cool.
In the Athens 2004 Olympics what are your memories as you came off that final bend in the 800metres?
I remember coming round the final bend and the best thing that happened to me was that I was barged, which made me take a step back and almost not go too quick - I have this tendency coming off the bend to think ’right just go’. But I didn’t. I was coming neck and neck down the home straight with Maria Mutola from Mozambique – a formidable athlete – it’s such a hard thing to do that. I also remember telling myself in the last 10 metres to relax, which meant relax and drive, and I took that one critical step forward to help me win the gold.
Obviously Athens was the highlight of your career, but which was the best gold to win, the 800m or 1500m?
They both have a different feeling for me. The 800m was my first Olympic Gold and was truly very special. But, my dream at 14 years old was to be an Olympic 1500m champion. To finally do that after all the drama I had had and to realize my true dream means that if I had to pick, the 1500m would have the tipping edge of being my best one.
Why did you leave the Army to take up professional athletics?
I gave up my junior international career to join the British Army at 18 and I didn’t come back into international athletics until I was 23. I was still in the army when I was inspired to go back into international athletics by watching the Olympic Games in Barcelona. I was watching a girl called Lisa York who I used to beat – I saw her running there and I thought ‘wow, I could be in it too’.
I used to use my leave to go and train, which gave me a good grounding, but I loved my job as a physical training instructor. The reason I gave up was because I got badly injured in the 1997 World Championships and I realized I couldn’t commit 100% to both my ambitions - having fulfilled my first dream that was to be in the Army as a physical training instructor, I thought that perhaps I should focus on my second dream, which is why I went back into athletics.
What role do you have at this Olympics and how much will you be working with Team GB?
I have a number of roles. One is BT global ambassador and I have been working with them for five years. What’s great about that is that this is the most connected Games that has ever been – in terms of all the structures that have been put in place to make the technology happen. It’s the first time we’ve had broadband in the Olympic village, which is new to athletes and makes a difference.
I’m also ambassador for Team GB, which means I’ve been travelling around the past year or so telling athletes what to expect – most of them haven’t been to an Olympic games before so it’s very overwhelming. So I’ve been hopefully motivating them, telling them what to expect and what the Olympics will be like.
Now they’re here it’s wonderful to see them again and they’ve been coming up to me and saying: ‘Thanks for telling us what to expect - now we know!’ So it’s been great.
Have you kept your medals close and where are they on display?
I generally carry them around with me, but I didn’t want to bring them with me today just in case I drop them in the middle of Hyde Park! I don’t keep them hanging anywhere because most of the time when I’m going places I like to show people the medals.
How much sports and exercise do you do now?
I don’t do as much as I like to, but when I go to the gym I go on the stepper, cross trainer, bike and do weights. I don’t have time to do it every day but if I don’t I make the point of running up the stairs or, say, doing sit ups at the end of a hotel bed. I like to feel like I’m doing something even if it’s really short and sharp.
What inspires you?
What I’m mostly inspired by is people who are passionate about what they do - for whatever reason – whatever they do or their background. It’s just a lovely feeling to see someone’s face light up.
I’m also inspired by having my own goals and ambition and trying to fulfill them.
Who do you think are the ones to watch in team GB this Olympics?
Ooh that’s a hard question! Once the momentum kicks in we’re going to have some amazing results for Team GB. You’re always going to see the main people there like Rebecca Adlington - you never know we might be cheering on another medal any minute!
In Team GB as a whole, we’re looking to get more gold medals than we ever have done - we got 19 medals in Beijing – so pick 10 names out of that and they’re going to be the stars here too!
What event are you looking forward to watching the most this Olympics?
I’d love to see my girls from my On Camp With Kelly education programme do well. They are Hannah England and Laura Weightman who are in the Women’s 1500m at these games.
What’s your favourite way to spend the weekend?
If I’m not working, it’s having my friends round and watching DVDs. I don’t cook as much as I like to, but when I do I have a go – I love butternut squash soup, for example. But for me, it’s really about spending time with people I don’t get to see much.
Emily Peck from ACHICALiving.com interviewed BT Ambassador Dame Kelly Holmes from BT House at BT London Live on 29.07.2012. To see who else will be there and what’s on offer head to http://www.btlondonlive.com/
[Images: BT Ambassador Dame Kelly Holmes getting in the sporting spirit at BT House, 29.07.2012]
You can also check out Kelly Holmes chatting at BT London Live here:
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Emily Peck, Editor
View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor