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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Holmes' place in history
Kelly Holmes
Kelly Holmes
800m, 1500m - 2004
Richard Meade
Three-day eventing - 1972
Albert Hill
800m, 1500m - 1912
Ethel Hannam
Tennis - 1912
Henry Taylor
Swimming, water polo - 1908
George Larner
3,500 & 10,000m walk - 1908
Charlotte Cooper
Tennis - 1900
Kelly Holmes' double gold in the 800m and 1500m has been hailed as one of the greatest achievements in Olympic history.

Holmes set a new British record and ended up as the only Team GB athlete to claim individual track and field gold.

But she did more than merely save her under-performing team-mates' blushes and more than simply fulfil a personal Olympic dream.

In doing the 800m-1500m double, the 34-year-old from Tonbridge achieved a rare Olympic feat.

Olympic middle-distance great Sebastian Coe, who was Holmes' idol growing up, described her achievement as "phenomenal".

Lord Coe, who himself won 1500m Olympic gold but was unable to clinch the double, said: "A lot of people have tried it, few people have done it. In historic terms and athletic terms, what Kelly did was supreme."

Another former British runner convinced of the magnitude of Holmes' accomplishment is former Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Brendan Foster.

The BBC pundit's emotional commentary as Holmes sank to her knees after clinching victory in the 1500m left viewers in no doubt as to how high he ranked her achievement.

"Britain's first ever gold medal in the Olympic Games was in the 1500m and now (this is) our most glorious moment in athletics history as far as I can see," he said.

"She is the double Olympic champion - we've never had one like you before. The last British athlete that came close to it was Sebastian Coe and he ended up as Lord Coe. Surely we going to call her Dame Kelly Holmes after that performance."

To compare Holmes' gold-winning achievements over six days with Sir Steve Redgrave's five-gold rowing haul amassed over 20 years is to attempt the impossible.

Sir Steve Redgrave
Five Olympic golds at successive Games
Sebastian Coe
Only man to win successive gold medals in the 1500m
Daley Thompson
First athlete for 32 years to successfully defend the decathlon title.
Mary Rand
First GB woman to win an Olympic athletics title; won gold, silver and bronze in three different events at 1964 Olympics
Harold Abrahams
100m winner in 1924 who was immortalised by Chariots of Fire film

But the statistics show the enormity of Holmes' achievement:

  • Only two other women have achieved the 800m-1500m double in the history of the Olympic Games.

  • Just three other athletes of any nationality have done the 800m-1500m double in modern times - New Zealand's Peter Snell in 1964, Tatyana Kazankina of the Soviet Union in 1976 and Svetlana Masterkova of Russia in 1996.

  • A mere six other British female track and field athletes have won Olympic gold - none had won more than one.

  • Only six other British competitors have won two or more golds at the same Olympics - and only one since 1920.

  • Holmes is the first Briton to win both Olympic middle distance events for 84 years, when Albert Hill won both in Antwerp in 1920.

    Holmes came into the Athens Olympics rated a 100-1 outsider by bookmakers to do the 800m-1500m.

    After her victory in the 800m, an open-top bus parade around her home town of Tonbridge was planned - now that looks likely to be scaled up into a national party.

    Not only did Holmes make a mockery of the odds, she now finds herself odds-on for a host of other things - from winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year to getting a gong in the New Year's Honours list.

    Her life will be changed with monumental fame and lucrative financial opportunities there for the grasping.

    But what will surely be most precious to her is the place that her Athens performances have earned her in the pantheon of Olympic greats.

    Links to more Athletics stories


    Holmes keeps on running
    29 Aug 04  |  Athletics
    Olympics back pages
    29 Aug 04  |  Olympics 2004
    Coe: Kelly was phenomenal
    28 Aug 04  |  Athletics
    Golden double for Holmes
    28 Aug 04  |  Athletics
    Kelly's golden double in pictures
    28 Aug 04  |  Photo Galleries
    Holmes clinches brilliant gold
    23 Aug 04  |  Athletics
    The real Holmes truth
    28 Aug 04  |  Athletics


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