Dame Kelly Holmes believed she would become Olympic champion from the age of 14, she has revealed.
That feat was something she achieved, not once, but twice, in Athens in 2004 as she became the first Briton to do the middle-distance double at an Olympics for 84 years.
Recounting those famous nights, and the days after, in an interview with The Independent to mark the 10 year anniversary since she made history, Holmes spoke of her disbelief at what she had done.
"I remember standing in my mum’s garden," she recalled.
"Literally pinching myself and thinking I was in a deep sleep and that I was going to wake up on the start line and realise none of it had actually happened. I just couldn’t believe that I’d done it."
Despite that sense of shock, Holmes claimed it was always her dream to become an Olympic champion.
"I believed I would be Olympic champion from the age of 14. I didn’t want to live with my regrets, so I never gave up that belief. But the thing is, that belief was only in the 1,500m, that was my event."
And that was the event she won with her eyes open. When she managed to claw her way past Zimbabwe's pre-race favourite Maria Mutola with just a few strides to go in her less-liked event, the 800m, Holmes did so with her eyes tightly squeezed shut.
In crossing the line and realising what she had done, the sense of shock was clear for everyone to see. That was not the case when a much calmer Holmes powered her way into the history books just a few days later with her second gold in the 1500m.
"I think if I’d not won the first, I might have worried more, felt more pressure, got my tactics wrong in the 1,500m. But I was so determined to win that second medal in my event. I felt so relaxed, I felt like I was being lifted up, like I was flying. It was a very weird situation."
Holmes, 44, was speaking not only for the 10 year anniversary, but also for the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, an initiative which aims to help young people achieve their goals with the help of world-class athletes.
"I was lucky I had a big goal in my life. A lot of young people don’t have that or the opportunities and can’t get out of their particular situation," she said.
Through the #DoubleGold campaign, Holmes intends to mentor the young people into gaining the confidence they need.
"We’re asking people to aim for the highest they can imagine. That might be getting a particular job or going back into education. It’s about doing the impossible, that’s the goal, to have a start point and then go even further."
If any of the young persons aims are similar to Holmes' were when she was 14, then lets hope they can achieve them, for those moments in the Greek capital a decade ago will live with a lot of people for a very long time.
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