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Lanark athletes train with Col. Dame Kelly Holmes MBE

Dame Kelly Holmes Training

Several Lanark athletes had the rare opportunity to train with Col. Dame Kelly Holmes MBE at Hamilton Palace Grounds last week.

The double Olympic Champion ran alongside members of Law and District AAC (LDACC) and the Clydesdale Colts Cycling Club in an hour-long session led by LDACC coach Pat Kelly.

Runners from Larkhall AAC and Hamilton’s David Lloyd Club were also among the South Lanarkshire participants.

Dame Kelly inspired her audience in a question and answer forum, telling how she battled many years of injury to achieve the goal she had held from the age of 14, to become an Olympic Champion.

Holmes said: “In 12 years out of seven I had injuries, but I still won 12 international medals because I believed in myself.

“I never gave up on the dream.”

Her key messages focused on self-belief and training hard.

She said: “If your ambition is to get better then you come to training and you work.

“You train to 100% of your ability.”

Dame Kelly told the group how she had hated school and lacked academic ability, but after her PE teacher recognised her running talent she was encouraged to compete.

She described her distinguished career in the Army, where she joined the running team, and of her commitment to full time athletics at age 23 - eventually winning double gold in the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Athens Olympics, aged 34.

Jessica Robson, 16, a LDACC runner from Lanark, said: “Kelly Holmes was just so passionate, and you could tell that she really loved running. It definitely made me feel even more enthusiastic.

“She was an absolutely brilliant speaker.”

The former middle-distance runner also made an impression on eleven year old, Clydesdale Colts cyclist, Josceyln Kennedy.

Joscelyn said: “From listening to Kelly Holmes, when she was talking about her nerves and how she always used to get herself worked up before a race started, I realised that I am not going to waste energy on being nervous and channel it into power.”

The chance for the aspiring athletes to meet such a distinguished and popular sports woman came after Wilson Developments bid for Dame Kelly’s time in an auction at Action for Children’s sports dinner.

The design and build contractors work in partnership with Clyde Valley Housing Association to provide social housing for rent throughout Lanarkshire and as part of that collaboration are tasked to provide community benefit.

Steven Wilson, managing director, Wilson Developments, said: “I have been involved in the local sports community through my membership of a triathlon club and cycle club and have seen the good these clubs do and how much people of all ages can get out of sport.”

 “When the auction prize came up, it was just too good an opportunity to miss.”

Steven, who is on the fundraising committee for the charity’s sports dinner, said he ‘was in awe her achievements and personality’ after hearing Kelly speak of her own background and issues with mental health.

Pat Kelly said: “Kelly Holmes was brilliant spending time with the young children.

“She was a breath of fresh air, talked a lot of sense.”

“I feel privileged to have been there and met such a nice and inspirational athlete.”

Dame Kelly inspires audiences in the UK and throughout the world as a motivational speaker and has recently launched a podcast, discussing mental health and coping mechanisms with TV personalities, writers and journalists.

Article contributed by Alison Gilchrist.