Although she showed early promise as a runner, Kelly Holmes gave up the sport to join the army at the age of 18 and become British army judo champion. She returned to competitive athletics after watching the 1992 Barcelona Games on television.
Holmes' career was plagued by injuries. Barely recovered from a stress fracture, she placed only fourth in the 800m at the 1996 Atlanta Games. In 2000, a ruptured calf left her only six weeks to train for the Sydney Games. Still, she managed to win a bronze medal in the 800m and placed seventh in the 1500m.
She arrived at the 2004 Athens Games in perfect shape. In the 800m final, Holmes moved past defending champion Maria Mutola and held off her other rivals. The finish was so close that Holmes didn’t know she’d won – she did so by five hundredths of a second. Five nights later, in the final of the 1500m, Holmes burst into the lead around the final turn and earned her second gold.
At 34, she was the oldest woman to win either the 800m or the 1500m, let alone both of them. Kelly Holmes continues to represent Great Britain’s sporting legacy abroad and campaigns for children’s sport.