3 Mar, 2021

098 Dame Kelly Holmes – Empowering others because I am empowered, from depression to double Olympics Gold

My guest today is someone who I’ve wanted to be here in my podcast for so long for so many reasons. It is none other than Dame Kelly Holmes.

Everyone has a battle and it’s always the one which one conquers. I’m always curious as to why one conquers more than the other. Join me as we know more about the battle that Dame Kelly Holmes has to conquer. And how did she flipped it?

I remember always wanting Dame Kelly Holmes to win and being upset when she didn’t because of injury. It was always injury. I just thought no history is going to repeat itself. It was just awesome when she won.

We underestimate sometimes how powerful our minds are. We regress into something that makes us perceive to be weak. That was the most empowering part of her story is her concept on how to change her mindset quickly and what she did with that thought going forward?

Finding something that make you feel good about yourself. You can be good but you have to want it. What sense of empowerment she got?

What is most empowering part of her story and what is your biggest takeaway?


Know more about Dame Kelly Holmes:




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Pete Cohen  0:01

Happy beautiful day. It is Pete Cohen it's the Mi365 podcast and today's podcast is someone. It's an interview with a person who I have wanted to be on the Mi365 podcast for probably four years. She is without doubt one of the most inspirational athletes and human beings on this planet. It is the awesome Dame Kelly Holmes. Get ready to be inspired. See you after the theme tune.


I am delighted that my guest today is someone who I've wanted to be a guest for so long for so many reasons. It's Dame Kelly Holmes, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?


Dame Kelly Holmes  1:09

I'm very well, thank you. Good to speak to you. Finally.


Pete Cohen  1:12

Yes. Now I really, really appreciate it. Because I've followed you for so many years. And I told you this before we did this. I watched the the 800 and the 1500 in 2004 the Olympics. And what was so amazing for me was about that is because I'd followed your whole career not your career as an athlete, not your not your whole career, you know, as a soldier in the British Army, but I just remember always wanting you to win, and always being so upset when you didn't because of injury, right? It was always injury. And I actually remember I can remember so clearly thinking that I didn't think you were gonna win. I just thought no history is going to repeat itself. But it didn't, you know, obviously, and it was just awesome. I mean, do you still feel? Do you still feel proud of your achievements? Or is it just a distant memory now?


Dame Kelly Holmes  2:02

No, I do feel proud. And I probably as time goes on, feel even prouder of that outcome because of the, you know, when you start to talk to people about a journey, and you talk to people, especially in society, generally who are, you know, trying to achieve that ultimate goal, set their visions that their targets and give up or find it really hard to keep going. And if you can pass on the message about that journey, not being, you know, an easy ride. Yeah, lots of different ways. And then actually, as I'm talking to people, the realization of what it actually took for me to get to that, I think becomes even more empowering, both for me to know that you can transition that to other things, but also to pass that on and that message to people.


Pete Cohen  2:48

Because when I look at you now you look younger than you did, then, I mean, you really do, there's something about you and love you is true. I mean, people must tell you that right that you just look like you're getting younger. And that's kind of one of the things that I that I would love to discuss with your career. so fascinating in terms of what you've been through which you've publicly said, so much of this, and what you went through and how you felt about yourself that the self harming the depression. But I suppose when we focus on the thing I love about you is the fact that you really are reinventing yourself, you have not stopped you want to do, I don't think I've met anyone who's so inspired about inspiring others. It's like, you have an obsession with that. And because when I heard you speak, when we did that thing on clubhouse, I was going, Wow, you really, really want to help other people. Why is that? I mean, it might sound obvious, but I'm really curious, what is it about you that makes you so obsessed about helping other people achieve and move on in their life.




Dame Kelly Holmes  3:49

I feel like through all different things that I've had in my life, sort of I I get people's struggles in different ways, I have empathy for people, and also I feel that there's a lot of people in life that you know, just never reach their full potential. And being somebody that if I, you know, when I set myself a goal, I it really affects me emotionally if I don't feel like I can achieve it. And it's just something that I've had all my life, you know, when I was younger at school, and I think it comes a lot from your past lots of things that go on and that might not even spoken about and not ready to speak about yet.


But you there's things in your past that if they were so instrumental in the way that you thought about yourself, you can't just get rid of those. So an example of that is being at school, not being the academic one. Really fearing that you're the odd one for some reasons, and finding something that just made me feel so good about myself, but then having a person and I know it's really easy to say, Oh, one person inspired me. But, you know, I think when you're younger, you can go two ways you can either ignore what people say because you're young and you kind of don't care and you're not got it or something that somebody says to you can just embed and be so instrumental in your thinking,


My mom is my PE teacher. And as much as I can say, and we have a friend now, you know having just somebody, I don't know what it was, but even though she was a PE teacher, it was almost like that belief in me that I could be someone and when somebody told me, you can be good, but you have to want it, you've got to work hard to get it and you got to believe you're going to do it, you know, that I just had that I held on to somebody giving me that positivity. And obviously, that set me on my, you know, my journey in athletics. But I remembered that so much that when I started my charity, the dame Kelly Holmes trust, it was all about that I believe one person can make a huge impact and different to somebody, if you give them a bit of time of day, if you give them a bit of, you know, motivation behind them bit of inspiration, and also guide them in their mindset. And I think so many people in society just need that one person.


Pete Cohen  6:14



Dame Kelly Holmes  6:14

I'm not just that one person. There's so many like yourself and other people, but I have it in me to want to get the best out of someone.


Pete Cohen  6:21

It's beautiful. I think you're obviously quite fortunate to have that. But you were 14 years old, right? When you I watched your TED Talk. And I've actually heard you speak before virtue speak many times. It's always, always always learned something from you always feel inspired, that I want to take something from you that I can apply to my life to make me better. And then I want to pass that on. I'm just I don't know where I got that from. I'm obsessed with it. And so in terms of kind of when you were 14 years old, right? That's when you had this idea of joining the army, right? Because you're from Kent, aren't you? And yes, born and bred. Ken made it Ken is made in Sussex, I've got to tell you that. You know, I asked you that thing the other day about Sally Gunnell how Sally Gunnell affected your life, Sally gonna change my life. I mean, literally, like you wouldn't believe. I used to live in London. I used to go and see her in Sussex, her and Jonathan big. And I said to her one day, I said, You know what, Sally, I'm sick of living in London. And she just looked at me and when, move.


So I did, I moved just down the road from her and lived, lived just like one village away for four years. And she was very like that in terms of wanting to give back and inspire other people. But if we go back to you, when you were 14, you said you had a dream, a dream of joining the army, when you say you had a dream? What did that mean? Did that mean you could actually envisage yourself being in the army?


Dame Kelly Holmes  7:44

Yeah, so 14 was a big, had a big impact on me. And, you know, again, I feel very fortunate that was that type of person that had these real intense feelings about what I wanted to do. So the athletics came, but also the army. So we had careers officers come around to our school. And at that time, again, not being someone that engaged very well, in the academic learning, it was almost that that became a physical attribute of mine that I could see myself doing. So when they showed me the videos of the Air Force, the Navy in the army, you know, the Air Force, they were just showing people in a, you know, an office, kind of, you know, doing administration and sort of battling straight out of my head. And then I showed Navy, the ships at sea, and I couldn't swim when I was 14. So I was like, no, that's not gonna happen. And then what it was about the army as they showed the physical training instructors, literally screaming and shouting at the soldiers, but what engaged me in both of those things was the discipline that the soldiers garnered just doing what they were told, but also the physical aspect of it, you know, scramble nets, and 12 foot walls, but then also somebody being in charge and telling them so I want it to be both, I want it to be the one like screaming and shouting, basically, and the one getting down dirty is what I say in a lot of my talks. But it was more than that, of the will piece around that was a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, and also a career that I could see myself fulfilling as opposed to what else was I going to do and I was actually working at the time a lot of people know that I my first actual real job was a nursing assistant for people with


Well, I suppose we call it now mental and physical disabilities. Yeah. called that so nice back then. And I always had the thing of, again, helping people but then wanting to be someone you know, and I then decided to join the army. So when you said about purpose, what did that actually mean? You wanted to have purpose or what was the What did you get a sense of purpose being in the army? Yeah, definitely. Just being someone you know, proven, maybe to myself first and foremost, but just maybe my vision of people not believing in me. I don't know why that always became that. But just a sense of, if I have a career, I can prove to myself, I can be good. Yeah, without anybody else telling me I could prove to myself I could be good. And going in the army you grow up very quickly, is obviously a very big disciplinary and type environment.


But expectations are met there. And then you have to do what they said. But I saw myself growing through that process and wanting to get, you know, kind of promoted so that I can feel that I'm always achieve and and that's been something that's always been in my mind.


Pete Cohen  10:40

So that whole thing of achieving to wanting to prove to yourself that you were somebody right, which I think is a driver for something so many people, I can definitely relate to that. Do you think you've transcended that now? Do you think you've gone beyond that, like, you don't really do feel like now you don't really need to prove yourself to anybody anymore?


Dame Kelly Holmes  10:58

Yeah, I don't feel like I need to prove myself to anybody, but I still have an inner desire to prove to myself that I can still.


Pete Cohen  11:04

Yeah, yeah, yeah. See, I think that you know, as my background in psychology, that's the thing I think you've done so well, you went through this huge up and down journey to then fulfill one of your dreams.


And it's like what Maslow Who's this, the who was like the forefather of psychology said that what man can be He must be, we must be the best we can be. And then when we've done that, we must go transcend that and move on to something else. Yeah. And that's probably why you look younger, because it's almost like you're living another life that life, it's still with you. And you're proud of it. And everyone who knows you is inspired by people who don't even know you who hear your story. But let's look at the athletics. When did you first realize, Oh, I can run really fast? How old were you when you kind of really worked? I mean, did you always love running? Or what? You know, was it just tell me about that? How did you come across it?


Dame Kelly Holmes  12:01

So again, it's school with the PE teacher. So basically, you know, we've sports days, you kind of I've engaged with it? Or you don't, don't you? And yes, what days, sports days, I just felt like it came alive. You know, because I just loved it. One because it wasn't in the classroom. And secondly, I just naturally was good at it. And I was beaten as girls that were like two years older than me, they kept putting me in the races with girls that were above me. And that was the first time that I would say my I my own identity was met because instead of being an altogether all set set out of a classroom, being my team, you know, Kelly was the, the girl that everybody wanted to be either not race against or too big with in a team. So it gave me a sense of empowerment. And I took that, you know, in a good way that I was good. So again, I was then the school's process is good in athletics, because you go through you represent your school, you go to your county champs, I was Kent County champion, then, you know, if you becomes Kent schools champion, and get selected for the English schools championships, that's the biggest you can ever get to as a school kid. So I went basically six months after I lost my first step, this is what happens. I was encouraged to do a cross country race, and I didn't want to do it. And the reason was, is that it just didn't, I just didn't want to do a cross country race. And I was pretty much forced, you got to do what you're told, right? As people. So I'm on the bus, we go to the school. And my teacher said just run. So I ended up running. And I came second to this girl. But it's not that whole point. It was the feeling that I got when I came second. I hated it. Yeah, yeah. And it was the only feeling that I had in my life. Today is something I didn't care with other things. But I hate it,


Pete Cohen  13:50

It's fascinating. You know that there's a phenomenon about that. Right? You know that with athletes who come second? Yeah, that for some of them, it gives them a fuel that they never ever want to feel that again. And for others it was. So that was the same for Sally in 91, when she was two hurdles left and looked down and realized, Oh, I could win this. And then kind of hit it hit the hurdle and came second. And that was the fuel that made her go and get some help from what's his name? The guy that won in 68.


David Henry, David Henry. Yeah, yeah. And then David said, Do you ever visualize the rays? You probably heard the story. And Sally goes well, sometimes, but I don't always see myself winning. And then David said, Listen, you got to think about this a lot. You know, and then I was really fortunate because when Sally retired, she'd never done public speaking and first two or three events I did with her. And the second was in Barcelona, and she'd never been back and I was there with her and Jonathan, and they wouldn't let her go on the track and I was going, do you not know who this is? But you probably remember the race in 93 because Sally got so good at visualizing when she crossed line in 93. She didn't know that she'd won. And she didn't know that she'd broken a world record. Where are you? Where are you in 93? You there in that stadium?


Dame Kelly Holmes  15:12

Which is ironic, because, you know, I was so new to international senior athletics then but you know, she was an Olympic champion. And you know, you're watching, you know, British hero when again, yeah, amazing. Amazing. So how much did you get inspiration from other people like that? Um, you know, I was inspired into the Olympic movement by watching Sebastian Coe, I saw that 1980 was 84, as well as before. Yeah. So, you know, kind of, I think, what was the inspiration because, of course, it wasn't about a man or a woman winning it was about somebody doing something that a lot of people would think impossible. And you see him cross the line is possible, in as a British person didn't matter whether it's man or woman is a British person, in an event that I used to run, winning, and I'm at home school, and school holiday, you know, and you know, the Olympic movement is so big and has a big impact. And people from all different ways. For me, having been 1500 meters champion, haven't been English schools champion, then watching, you know, this Olympic thing that was our Yeah, I was I want to do that. And I tell the story all the time. Like, literally, I went from being in school holidays, going back to school, telling my best friends, Carrie, Lara, and Kim, who are still my best friends to this day, not gonna be an Olympic champion. And I've always said exactly what they said to me is that, yes, you probably are, because the only bloody thing you're good at, hence, why I believed I was just gonna run in. And this is the thing you know, you get, I think, yeah, I've noticed is with young people, in particular, when somebody says something like that, they take it as a negative, whereas I'm like, yeah, I'm gonna, I'm gonna show you I can do it. If you have a burning desire, and not arrogance, but through what it makes you feel, you know, I just got goose bumps like literally over my body. And I was so empowered with seeing that success that I, that's what I want.


Pete Cohen  17:19

That's what's so fascinating about you, of all the athletes I've ever seen. I mean, I don't think many of them went through what you went through, I mean, the injuries that you had, and you were, you know, you were the one who was going to win, they'd all say, you're going to win, right? And then it just seemed like, No, no, no. And then Athens, it was like, No, I actually kind of remember people saying, it's not going to happen. She's just history is going to repeat itself. Yeah, but it didn't really do. But let's just go back. So just when you when you when you came second to that girl, did that really hurt you and just say, I'm not gonna let that ever happen again, I'm gonna win.


Dame Kelly Holmes  17:57

It's just something that came over me that I just hated the pit in my stomach. And, you know, I just wanted to know your experience.


Pete Cohen  18:05

Did you want to never experience that again? Or did you just want to why I'm fascinated by that.


Dame Kelly Holmes  18:10

Because I really loved running. And it was so empowering. To me, the thought of losing in that moment was almost like, I want to be better, because I love the feeling of running. So by losing, I really, you know, again, people when they can just go, you know, I'm not good enough. Whereas I was thinking, I hated feeling that I could have won or actually meant it almost as though, when it meant so much to me, as that young girl, that I didn't want to feel I wasn't good at it, because it felt like the only thing I was good at.


Pete Cohen  18:45

Yeah. But what's fascinating also is that it's almost like you have to get to where you got to to eventually win for somehow then working out now what I can do, because Come on, you're pretty good at a whole load of things now, right? With your different businesses and your interest. And I'm building teams of people around you. Yes. Funny what we were told in our and what we believe. So I mean, that we could talk about this forever, but people can go in there, people can go and find out for themselves and look at what you've done. But just just tell us. What was that like for you just kind of competing and going to Olympic Games and and getting injured? And did you still always have that fire in your belly? Like, well, I'm still even with that. How did you manage the disappointment and the setbacks?


Dame Kelly Holmes  19:31

I think so I've always been into how to change your mindset quickly. And even back then I think I've completely, you know, grown and lots of things in life generally. But there was a point when I went to my first Olympic Games when I was 26 years old, and I'd obviously I'd already been in the army for a few years so I'd grown I had become a lot stronger as a person. As a woman, and I'd seen results, you know, I'd won a Commonwealth Games gold medal and a European silver and two World Championship medals. And yeah, I was juggling that with a full time career. And what happened was, is when I went to my first Olympic Games, I end up running, running with a stress fracture. Yeah. And the immediate disappointment of coming forth getting picked on the line.


The immediate disappointment of that was just so overpowering the hated it, I couldn't believe. But there was something that happens when I came back to the UK and I went back to my army barracks, and I'm on crutches. I think so I've always been into how to change your mindset quickly. And even back then I think I've completely, you know, grown and lots of things in life generally. But there was a point when I went to my first Olympic Games when I was 26 years old, and I'd obviously I'd already been in the army for a few years so I'd grown I had become a lot stronger as a person.can do that, though, right? Anyone can do is if they choose to do it, because it's easy to fall into the hurt and the disappointment and the setbacks and the, you know, the negative side of anything we do when we hit rock bottom, or where we hit a brick wall. It's so easy to go into that. But we all know that easy isn't an option. If you want to get somewhere, you know, you have to work out. So it was almost that maybe because of my army background, I had that kind of tenacity, that resilience a bit. Yeah, I ever give up. Yeah. And that was the most empowering part of my story, because that is what I always lived by all the way through my career is if I hit a rock bottom, or I hit a setback, or hit a barrier, whether that was a personal thing, or you know, physical thing, how do I change my mindset into what did I get out of it? And what can I do with that thought going forward?


Pete Cohen  22:41

So what about kind of some of the lowest points because was it in going towards Athens that you really got into a depression? Right?


Dame Kelly Holmes  22:54

Yeah, I mean, so 33 years old. I mean, you think you're kind of sorted and haven't been in an international athletics, then? And then in the military for nearly 10 years, you kind of got quite robust.


Yeah, do you know what a combination? I think this is what people have to understand accumulation of emotional impacts, as well as fighting all the time. You know, I was always like this, you know, loggerheads with emotions, and disappointments to absolute belief. I could do something and that's a real hard, yeah, compute. And, you know, when it gets to a point I basically had a breakdown, become depressed, which then got diagnosed with clinical depression and became a self harmer in a in what was perceived to be a split second of loss. But on reflection and looking at it is obviously a build up of that.


Pete Cohen  23:51

Was self harming. I mean, everyone's different, but that can be just so much frustration, and you just want to get it out. There's something you just got to get it out. And the way you describe the way you live in your life, it wasn't surprising that a lot of frustration was there, and probably other stuff as well. But I'm so curious as to how you've moved you wouldn't say you suffer from depression now.


Dame Kelly Holmes  24:13

Well, I've not right at this moment. No. Since retiring, have I? Yes. Yeah. Is it stressful myself, I'm the last time I self calm was the day my mother passed away. Yeah, because that I mean, that was literally the worst day of my life out of anything. I've had breakdowns, whatever that was the rest of my life personally. But I also linked up myself and then I also with the mindset that I've got as around how do I quickly flip it to something else? Yeah, she hasn't got a life to live. All I'm doing is hurting my life and stopping me doing things because I'm going, I've got to not do that. And it was just that split thing. Up until that point, it was always a cry out. You know, those two things are self harm. It's crying out to people, especially if it's visual in your head.


You need help and crying out physically? Or is that in a pain? You're hurting yourself? I never cried out to someone one because I didn't know how to and didn't do it, which I probably advocate not to do now. But um, yeah, it was me it was me punishing myself. And that was also really hard time because when you haven't got an outlet to tell people to get help, yes. Like you can't. Again, it's a it's a battle in your mind.


Pete Cohen  25:26

And if you had counseling with that, and if you've kind of worked through some of some of it just sorted out yourself. He's just been running, right?


Dame Kelly Holmes  25:34

Yeah, I didn't, I mean again, you know, the same thing of the power of our minds, we underestimate sometimes how powerful we actually are because it's easy to regress into something that makes us perceive to be weak or, you know, kind of go into a downward spiral as opposed to fight because fighting is really hard in a lot of people's minds. But we all have it in us. And so for me, I suppose I've just always kind of had I flick it you know, when I will forget is that when I went was rock bottom or not, you know, we all have a different rock bottom. Mine was I want to jump in a hole and I don't want to see tomorrow, so it's pretty. But on the same side of that, which is the hardest part is I still had a dream. I was still at that time getting ready for World Championships. I was in holding camp for a World Championships when I hit my rock bottom. Yeah, the thing that kept me going was I'm not going to not go to the World Championships are not going to not run. And I stood on a roster and I got a silver medal at those World Championships. Yeah. And no one knew that before that the night before I was cutting myself that was crying. I was in tears. I still got it. That's the power of the mind. That helped me move on not get over it. Definitely not not think that I'm suddenly okay. Yeah. Oh, me find the inner fight that I needed to become an athlete because the athlete bit was not in question. I wanted to be an athlete. The bit was in question is hated myself? Did I myself, personally, what was happening was I get in, you know, I felt like I was being cursed. So on one side, it was all them personally. And on the other side, it's like, I'm good enough. But we all have that, right? I mean, everybody has it. It's just a lot of people don't vocalize it. And I think you should write a book called flip it or something around that. I didn't need to do that.


Pete Cohen  27:34

Oh, I think that would be amazing. Because flipping is always a choice. You know, everyone has that battle. And it's always the one that which one conquers. I'm always curious as to why one conquers more than the other. But let's just let's just go to, to not Sydney, let's go to Greece, right?


Dame Kelly Holmes  27:53



Pete Cohen  27:54

So were you aware what everyone else was kind of thinking that? Were you aware that people were kind of thinking it would be nice, but it's probably not going to happen? Because of what were you aware of that because I could almost if I could, if I was like an Indian chief, and I could go like that and put my finger up, that I could feel that there was a wave of everyone thinking it's not gonna happen. I can't even remember the commentators kind of think saying that was nice, nice. She's here, but she's not gonna when we you kind of aware of that. Did you read papers? Did you listen to people's opinions?


Dame Kelly Holmes  28:27

Yeah, I started I suppose over a couple of years, you know, I won a bronze in Sydney. But that was offered only six weeks of running. And then I started Yeah, again, I was winning lots of medals, but it was almost like, you know, bridesmaid never the bride type.


Yeah, everyone is unexpected that I can win a medal because I've met or that even though that's seven years of injury, that's still metal that nearly every championship I went to, but it was I you know, it was like everything. And I suppose what happened was, you know, people say to me, but how can you go from being depressed and having a breakdown and whatever, to winning to gold medals? I said, because what you don't realize is, I was winning those medals off of depression. I was winning those medals off of stress, fracture, ruptured carves operation to my stomach, glandular fever, tonsillitis, I was still winning medals. My opposition didn't go through all of that. And they're only just in front of me. So how can I not believe that I'm better than them? Yeah, I always had in my head, I have to be better than you. Because if I get in, like so close, but I'm my last bit of prep is so that was it. The power of remembering what you've done before, and giving yourself credit and putting yourself on your back because people when something goes wrong, think that the here and now is only thing that you can judge yourself on. Whereas actually, if you've got to a point of being quite something, you've done all the work, you've done all the learning, you've done all the homework, you've done it all. I've done all that I knew how to race, but my body kept letting me down so so I always had an inner belief but, fundamentally, to get where I got to in Athens was that I didn't I let my legs do the talk. And I never vocalized where I was at because I'd go in 2003 with no one knowing I'd had an inner power that no one knew about me like an inner strength to keep going like something that's inevitable, and no one knew about that. So in my world, that's power. To me. The thing is,


Pete Cohen  30:29

If you think about is obvious, isn't it but I don't think it was obvious to anybody else apart from you,


Dame Kelly Holmes  30:34

Because no one knew what was going on. So the thing is, when I came out in 2004, and you know, what people what people don't know is how do you create that winning team around you? And how I created that winning team is to tell them that they've got to step up. They've got to believe in them as much as I believe in myself. Yeah, if you're doing if you're doing a job, you got to do it. Well. Otherwise, don't be on my team. Because I'm not I'm there's nothing now in my life, that can make me feel bad about myself. Other than what I felt bad enough, no one, no one can put me down anymore. So people are writing me off. People say now you're the bride, never the bridesmaid, or you're never gonna win a medic, whatever I had to say I don't care anymore, because actually, you know what those words and those thoughts will never make me feel as bad as I feel about myself anyway. And then again, that was a mindset flip, that was changing. So I got my team of people, physios that I'd been with before, I got my training partner that Anthony Whiteman, who had been a great runner, but it never won anything on the world stage because he messed around and didn't believe in himself enough. You know, I had a physio that was brilliant physio, but she worked in a university in Leeds, she was part of the British team. I had these people that trusted me, I trusted them. But I literally had to say, you've got to be like, literally world class because I know. And this is before they even knew what's happened to me in 2003. I said to him, if you keep me injury free, I'm going to win that work that Olympic Games, I just knew it. I just knew I could. It was my body. Let me down because I weighed up all the odds, I weighed up all the things of, I'm still here. I'm still fighting. I've won all these medals. No one's known or the journey this thing yet. I've still won these bloody medals.


I can't go any lower. So I can only go higher than what I've done. and higher was being number one in the world before being in the top three in the world before. Yeah. You know, medalist. So that's a decision. And I'm not saying that for people comparing an Olympic standard, but in anyone's world, yeah. weigh up the pros and cons. The cons, okay, are things that either we've put in our way, or situations that have stopped us or progressing. And the pros are always going to be the things that you've been through before you've done before that you've got the tick in the box that you've done your education. You've done your learning, let's say, and what's stopping you now. Okay, because what stopped somebody else? Being good in your industry? They just gave up on it. What somebody's been the best in their industry? Because they've given up?


Pete Cohen  33:10



Yeah. No, I remember. I mean, I watched the races this morning. I've not seen him for a while. And I just, you know, as having spoken and known sorry, there's been so many times I've watched her and cried, you know, and I watched you this morning, and I cried, because I hadn't seen it for so long. And it represented to me and and the 100. And guys, whether you like listening to this watching this, whether you like athletics or not just go and watch both of those races, because you were in last place in the in the 100. And you I think you started off strong you. You looked like you were strong at the box, the blocks. And then it seemed like it just slowed and everyone else was stronger than you and then there I just remember just seeing you then when the bell when you were still I think you were in seventh place. Yeah, all of a sudden, it was just like, like you said, there was something inside you that just rose up that was far more powerful than anything. And it was just, it was beautiful to watch. Really, it was just such an amazing thing. And then of course, what was that like for you when you cross the line? How did you feel?


Dame Kelly Holmes  34:15

Well, I mean, obviously be the face. Yeah, I shocked. Shocked because I've never actually my dream has always been to win the 1500 meters title. Yeah, all the time. But I always knew I would medal in the 800. Because actually, that year going into it. I'd want every single weight 100 meter race that I'd run in internationally and people forget kind of those things, you know, when they just see the end result. But I'd lost every single 1500 meters because every 1500 meter race I went into in my head as I got to when I got it, like I was never in the zone whereas the 800 meters I didn't set expectations on myself. I just use my experience to do what I did. And then so when I crossed the line in the 800 meters you know from a geeky point of view, the initial thing is, you know, you've crossed the line, but then it was kind of like 800 meters. But so people look at that. So from a technical point of view, it looks like I go off slow. But I'd had a strategy because every part of what I trained for leading up to it was to run, even pace run into every single session that I had done in my build up to it was to run that way. So I never went too fast and never went too slow and never did a session and got faster than the last reps. It was always about pace judgment. So I just took that learning. So that's just, you know, a bit of learning. I took that into the race. So I strategized beforehand and thought to win a medal, you're gonna have to run one minute 56 seconds, there are there abouts? Why do I know that through history through understanding my opposition, do my input is that like you would in any job? Yeah, then I knew that the, the front runner because I knew that all the people that run the front runner, Jos, mas Clark would go out to the front, and she generally runs the first 200 and about 2526 seconds. So that meant to sustain that pace, you're going to be running like a 152, that's not going to happen. So if I ran like 2829 seconds, and evenly, I'll run a 156. So they're going off in 2526, I'm going off in 2829 30, odd meters big scariest position I've ever been in, I have to say, but a time I've got round to the 400 meters i'd closed even though as at the back, I'd close that gap. They've now gone from a 2526 to a 32nd 31. Second 200. And I just maintain my pace. So I just maintain my pace. If anyone actually gets the breakdown, I can't remember exact It is only a few hundreds of a second between each of my 400 splits. Yeah, the oddest part of that race, psychologically, is running neck and neck with somebody at that level, because it's very easy. And I've done it in the past, to their aura, to start fighting against that kind of being someone there.


But again, in training, I'd practiced to relax, relax, relax, and I just took all the training. How many times have you done something and you've got a plan and you get to the moment and you change it because you didn't panic? I just didn't panic. And it's the first time because the wider part of me was that I'm the fittest strongest and more competent. I've been in seven years first year and 700 injury, the first year that I just said, I can't do any more than I've what I've gone through let it happen to me. And that's what happens. I believe in fate as well. You know, I think the fate is, is the fact that you dreamed it. You saw it. You just knew it was gonna happen. Yeah, the hardest thing is, you know, you have a cycle for years and in athletics terms, you never know. But yeah, it is. But I can honestly say, you know, people say about visualization. It wasn't really something that was part of my Yeah, it when I was younger in sport, because it wasn't something that was really hot like it is now. But did I visualize myself? When Olympic gold? Yes.


Pete Cohen  38:15

Yeah. See, I? I was talking to Ronnie O'Sullivan, earlier today because he loves running. You know, he absolutely loves running. I heard that. Yeah, no. And he loves running. He's actually very good at running. But it's the running. He loves to stop flow of just that man. And he loves a lot of watching the the Kenyans and Africans running just to see because that's what I think we're designed to move. And you're always moving, aren't you? I think I think there's so much more to your story. But I would just encourage everyone to follow you, especially if they're some of the stuff that you're doing right now. Tell us about what you're doing in terms of people's well being and health because I know that you're a massive advocate of that. And yeah, tell us about that.


Dame Kelly Holmes  38:57

Yeah, so a few things. So started a corporate app called ELF, play lifestyle and fitness app. So I publicly do a lot of motivational speaking. And I realized that, you know, the responsibility of a corporate, especially in these big corporations to look after the well being and mindset of their employees is really important, even especially even through you know, the situation. And I just wanted to kind of empower the corporates to support their employees to get the most out of the employees, you know, at the end of the day, if it goes down to the bottom line, how are you going to achieve that you have to work as a team, and you can be the biggest corporate in the world, but it's going to always be the people that are helping you get there, you know, and I take that mindset for my athletics, so that our foot work and so I'm really trying to push that now and getting funding so finding people on clubhouse and trying to get funders going through the whole strategy and as a new world tech is a new world to me businesses.


That way as a new world going up in funding the New World, but I think anything's possible if you just adopt the same mindset of previous success, asking for people working with people interacting, finding the best support team. And then on the other side of it from a, you know, people point of view, I still love inspiring people to get the best out of themselves. So during lockdown through my social media, Dame Kelly Holmes, they also started a fitness concept, which about mindset and performance and fitness. And that was called military emotion. And that was a really beautiful community of people together who need help, just gallon drive in themselves, do something positive in life, you know, there's some people, you're very lucky because you win that world. You've got that vision to help people and have the mindset. I'm very lucky because, you know, in my sport and high achiever, I have that there's a lot of people in life that don't yet find their USP don't yet find that inner fire or they're burned. They've got it, but they just can't yet find it.


Pete Cohen  0:02

That's what's driving you is that you just want to help people find that for themselves.


Dame Kelly Holmes  0:07

Yeah, but it makes me grow as well you know for me the day that I could, or I'm not, you know, I've never put myself in this, but I know I'm good at something and nothing is how do you do that in a meaningful way. It doesn't put yourself like up on a pedestal because that's about, I want to make you better because here's what I've learned in my career.


Pete Cohen  0:34

So I got involved in sports psychology just simply because I love sport I absolutely love it but I also wanted to look at all different sports and just actually see what is the mindset of all of these people so I worked with the ken cricket team in 99, and so many athletes that I work with Mark Richt and you and Thomas Steve Backley not Sally I knew Roger met Roger black, I met Sally through Roger Martin devenish Christina Malcolm


Dame Kelly Holmes  1:02



Pete Cohen  1:05

100m runner.


Dame Kelly Holmes  1:05

Yeah. Blast from the past.


Pete Cohen  1:10

He was such a great guy, they're the guy that trained them or his group. Oh,


Dame Kelly Holmes  1:17

Well, wasn't a Oh


Pete Cohen  1:19

no, it was looked after Marcius group and Krisztian and then he ended up working for Skier's when I saw him the other day.


Dame Kelly Holmes  1:27

Oh yeah what his name, and it does. Cut this bit But yeah, I know


Pete Cohen  1:34

He'll send me a message saying how could you forget me, and I always found that interesting and especially for athletes who, you know, weren't earning lots of money in many cases but there was a lot of camaraderie. You know I knew Sally spent a lot of time around john Regis Linford Christie, and the impact that it had on her. But, I'm sorry.


Dame Kelly Holmes  1:54

It was a different world back then as well in sport you know generations change things, financial input change things you know I remember that area talking about a lot of people juggle jobs and, and yet we're still successful and I think that's something that people should always look at as well. You know when you're looking at a hero. We're looking at inspiration, it's like, look at a multitude of time and how things have changed because those that have gone before especially in sport before or after sort of my era and the 90s and 80s, you know, financing opportunities, allow you to do so much more, but to champions have also come from not having that just grit and determination which proves then that anyone can do anything.


Pete Cohen  2:39

So I remember interview Audley Harrison and he talked he was one of the first people I interviewed at Olympics. And you know hip the impact that he had in winning gold right the impact that had on British boxing. You know, for all the lights of a gym, so many other people that followed, the What about you, what legacy Do you think you have left so far on athletics. And what you did.


Dame Kelly Holmes  3:01

I hope to think that it helps the UK go for the Olympic for the Olympics, you know, we went for the bids. After that I think about a lot of presence and formula, UK, so I hope that I had a little bit of input and inspiration of what the Olympics means, you know, haven't been the first female ever to win two gold medals. Same games. So I hope that had an input.


Pete Cohen  3:25

And what about William Greece Come on What did that like come on, did that have any effect on age you think yeah afterwards just fell how. Yeah,


Dame Kelly Holmes  3:32

I mean the Olympics you know it's that they didn't raise up, you know, Athens it's, it's the birthplace of the Olympic Games and having someone you know in my head that my heart, kind of the Olympic rings were so powerful growing up so that was amazing. And then I suppose. Yeah, just the movement of what the Olympics brings is a powerful one isn't it.


Pete Cohen  3:54

I thought what you pour so much joy into people's lives and which was great and hopefully for some people they use that for their own inspiration rather than just looking at you and think that was great and, you know, I was listening to someone john dr john demartini who I know that you listened to you that day. I'm doing a podcast with him. That guy's unreal. And one of the things he said Is he said, What do you want the legacy of your life he thought about his legacy in 1000 years not not in. And that made me think really what what impact do I want to leave behind which is the last question, but the word hero actually comes from the Greek word heroes, which is the Protector so heroes protect and that's to me what you represent, Kenny you know you you want to protect others but you want others to come to us and protect and make the world a better place. What do you want the legacy of your life to be in 1000 years.


Dame Kelly Holmes  4:43

Oh my gosh,


Pete Cohen  4:44

You can always come back to me on that.


Dame Kelly Holmes  4:48

Can I come back to that. I haven't finished him when I want to do yet so let's talk about that.


Pete Cohen  4:53

Let's talk about that in 40 years time yeah


Dame Kelly Holmes  4:55

I mean i feel like through understanding growth through, knowing that things will still have setbacks and barriers, but you can still grow I feel like I grow every day, honestly say in the last six months I've probably learned, even more about myself and understanding about who I am, and I have in my whole career just through circumstance, Introduction to people. I think about my life, and I think there's, there's no, there's nothing that can tell you not to keep learning, and I was never the best best athlete in the world till I stood on top of the restroom. I was number one in the world as fast as I'd done this, but I kept learning until that day and I keep learning it till you die. So how do we combat with that. Yeah.


Pete Cohen  5:40

So how do people, what's the best way for people to contact you Instagram is what's your handle.


Dame Kelly Holmes  5:46

Yeah, so my handle is that Dame Kelly Holmes. My other handles @militaryinmotion and happy to say we didn't bring this in is, how do you have an impact on changing things in life. So, remember I said to you about my PE teacher. So, I started a charity in 2008 called the dame Kelly Holmes trust and this is how I've used my, I suppose my name to make a difference, was because I never forget people, I never forget people that do something because they really mean it. You know, not because they want something out of you, not because, you know, they think if they attach your name I just never forget, somebody that really truly wants to help you and my PE teacher when she told me I could be good at something, she was a PE teacher that was a job, but she actually wanted me to do something. I started my charity off of that because I wanted to help disadvantaged young people. It was a deprivation that felt that they had nothing in life, you know, my background was, I grew up in a care home for the first four to five years. I'm a mixed race girl and in White County didn't know my father, you know, working class family worked hard and started earning money myself by washing cars and cleaning windows just to get my own pocket money, you know, to buy my mom and dad. I was at a tumble dryer, I used all of my add 12 pounds a week for my a paper round, I use us 10 pounds a week to put it on to this down in calories I want local calories and Tonbridge 10 pounds every week I'd put on there for 20 weeks to be able to buy this tumble dryer because I wanted them to feel good. I've always had an innate ability to want other people feel good. It comes from. If you can empower other people it empowers you as well if you can see change in other people and you've been instrumental in that change that not only makes you feel good, but makes you then kind of think where you actually are in life and I suppose that's maybe one of the legacies that I want to leave is that, you know, I can empower people, because I'm being empowered by others and I can be empowered by people, because I'm part of people is, is that I want to help people get the best out of their lives, going back to charity without over 400,000 young people from areas of deprivation. All because of that it is one person I believe that can make a difference, and our charity works with sports people hi world class sports people are transitioning their careers to find out who they are. Next, but having unique unique ability to give you know, to empower others, and I feel like that's one of my biggest achievements is starting the charity from nothing had no idea, having 400,000 people and transitioning 750 athletes into new careers. If I can do that, then I can do anything because while I believe.


Pete Cohen  8:46

Well, I'd love to if I can ever help you with any of that. So you know my background, believe it or not I was a PE teacher, obviously worked with lots of athletes, but also lots of people who really struggled because when that thing ended they didn't know who they were, you know, and


Dame Kelly Holmes  9:04

Oh there's so much noise that's a whole new podcast we can do I've been doing that since 2008 and that transition has been unreal. There was no one helping athletes that then transition. And, you know, like I say it's another conversation.


Pete Cohen  9:18

I was with MTC right you know with Jonathan marks and Colin Jackson and Jonathan Edwards I mean I couldn't believe you know Jonathan, but he makes sense though, isn't it, you do something every day for all of your life and then you stop, it's, it's gonna be a challenge, but I just love the way that. Yeah, well, another podcast I've done three with Ronnie O'Sullivan I think I've done three with Karen dark so much I really, really, this is something I've been waiting for for a long time and there was a part of me that maybe didn't think it was gonna happen but there was a part of me that always thought it was so I can't wait to for people to listen to this please reach out to Kelly and tell her what was your biggest takeaway I know you love feedback right that. No, let me know and take some positive action away from this for me it's all about flip it and I hope one day you'll write a book maybe that's something to do with with that and. Thank you so much. It was awesome.


Dame Kelly Holmes  10:17

Thank you.



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