Kelly Holmes has become a household name in the UK. She stole
the nation's hearts when she won gold in both the 800m and the 1500m
at the Athens Olympic games in 2004. But that isn't all there is to this
young mixed-race woman.
Born to an English mother and Jamaican father, Kelly was the result of
an unplanned pregnancy. Her mother was only 17 and the prospects for
a single mother with a brown baby in Kent in the 70's didn't look promising.
When she broke the news of their forthcoming grandchild to her parents
she was given an ultimatum: have the baby adopted or leave home. Thankfully
her mother chose the latter and moved to London with Kelly's father.
The relationship didn't fare well however and before Kelly was a year
old her mother and father went their separate ways.
For the first five years of her life Kelly spent most
of her time in St George's children's Home, just outside Tonbridge. Her
mother who worked close by would visit her regularly. Although she tried
several times to make a home for herself and Kelly she found it just
too difficult and Kelly would end up back at St George's. At one point
she almost succumbed to the pressure from her parents and had Kelly adopted
by a waiting couple. As social services came to take Kelly away her mum
started crying and Kelly was saved once more.
It was the entrance of her stepfather Mick that finally
offered some security to the family and though they had their ups and
downs together they laid the foundations that enabled Kelly to become
the world-class athlete that she is today.
In Black, White and Gold, her autobiography Kelly
Holmes shares her inspirational story of growing up mixed-race in Kent,
of not knowing her real father, of being a woman in the male-dominated
army and of fighting a host of injuries to bring home not one but two
gold medals for her country.
Kelly made history when she won the 800m and
1500m - she was the first Britain to do so in 84 years. In 2004 she
was crowned BBC TV Sports Personality Of The Year and was named a Dame
at Buckingham Palace in the New Years honours list.
An icon for all those striving to achieve their goals, Kelly's
story is one for the history books and it looks like there's still
much more to come from this remarkable woman.