Who is the newest Loose Woman? Dame Kelly Holmes’ career and life so far

·3-min read
Dame Kelly Holmes won gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004 in both the 800 and 1500 metres. (PA)
Dame Kelly Holmes won gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004 in both the 800 and 1500 metres. (PA)

Gold medal award winning British athlete, and now the newest addition to the Loose Women Panel, Dame Kelly Holmes is no stranger to the world of fame.

On her new TV role, Holmes told The Sun: “I hope I can bring my energy to the show and I will be up for doing any mad experiences that they throw at me.”

“It will be so different to anything I have done before in my career, but now I have found my authentic voice since the airing of my documentary, I will join in on many conversations that I felt I never could before.” Her documentary, Kelly Holmes: Being Me, aired in June where she came out as gay.

But who is Dame Kelly Holmes? Here is everything you need to know.

Who is Dame Kelly Holmes?

52-year-old Dame Kelly Holmes was born in Pembury, near Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent. She is the daughter of Derrick Holmes, a Jamaican-born car mechanic, and English mother, Pam Norman.

Holmes grew up in Hildenborough, Kent and began her athletics journey at the age of 12, joining Tonbridge Athletics Club. She cites British middle-distance runner Steve Ovett as her hero. From the age of 18, she worked in the British Army taking on two roles throughout the years, a HGV driver and a basic physical training instructor (PTI).

After watching the 1992 Summer Olympics on TV, and seeing Lisa York in the 3,000 metre race, she decided to make her return to athletics. She started off combining athletics with employment in the army, and later became a full-time athlete in 1997, when she had enough money to do so.

Kelly Holmes came out as gay during Pride month in 2022, revealing that she is in a happy relationship and had wanted to "scream" about her sexuality for years but felt unable to speak about it publicly.

She told the Sunday Mirror: “I needed to do this now, for me. It was my decision. I’m nervous about saying it.

“I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement. Sometimes I cry with relief.”

After her first kiss with another woman, Kelly wrote to her stepdad to tell him what had happened. She explains that she was confused and scared about what this meant for her, but was accepted by him straight away.

What are the significant moments in Dame Kelly Holmes’ career?

Holmes’ first win was in the 1500 metre Commonwealth Games’ race in 1994, and she went on to regain the title in 2001. In 2000, at the Sydney Olympics 800 metres, she won bronze, her first Olympic medal.

She also won silver in the 800 metres at the World Championships in 2003.

While training in 2003 for the 2004 Summer Olympics at a French training camp, Holmes suffered leg injuries and was depressed, she admits that she began cutting herself. “I made one cut for every day that I had been injured”, Holmes said in an interview with the News of the World.

But 2004 saw a huge victory for Holmes, winning two gold medals at the Athens Olympics in both the 800 and 1500 metres. She was also given the honour of carrying the British flag at the closing ceremony of the games, on August 29, the day after her second victory.

Holmes won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2004, saying she achieved her goals after “20 years of dreaming”.

In 2005, she was awarded a DBE and became a Dame.

This was also the year of her retirement. She admitted she was no longer motivated to continue, after learning of the sudden death of Tim O’Brien; a man she met whilst undergoing physiotherapy.

Speaking at the time, Holmes explained: “It just totally shook me up and started making me think about my future.”

“I have achieved everything I wanted to in my life and want to make the most of my life from now on.”