Olympic star’s going for gold

Dame Kelly Holmes at the De Vere Hotel, Blackpool
Dame Kelly Holmes at the De Vere Hotel, Blackpool
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Dozens of young runners sprinted out of the starting blocks this weekend as they showed off their athletic skills and picked up tips from one of Britain’s best.

Dozens of young runners sprinted out of the starting blocks this weekend as they showed off their athletic skills and picked up tips from one of Britain’s best.

Olympic hero Dame Kelly Holmes was in Blackpool to give the resort’s budding sports stars an inspirational pep talk.

And resort primary school pupils joined runners from Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Athletics Club at the De Vere Hotel to quiz the double Olympic gold medallist on her success.

The 800 and 1500 metre champion said: “It’s really important to work with youngsters and have the opportunity to talk to people, because it makes you become more human I think.

“I started running when I was 12, had a dream like most kids to do something, and worked hard to get there.”

It was Dame Kelly’s first visit to Blackpool, as she officially opened the De Vere Hotel’s new gym facilities, talked to kids, parents and athletes, and handed out the medals to excited youngsters in a mini-indoor athletics competition.

She added: “I’m hoping to inspire everybody. Sport is a great way of bringing out young people’s confidence and their leadership skills and communication skills.

“It’s certainly added to who I am as a person and it’s never too late.”

One of the youngsters lucky enough to meet Dame Kelly was seven-year-old cross-country runner Phoebe Hoey, from Carleton.

She said: “She spoke to me and said I should be whoever I want to be.

“I do cross-country at school, and I’d like to be like Dame Kelly.”

Lauren Gowland, 16, from Hambleton, runs for Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Athletics Club.

She said: “It was very inspiring. Athletics is something I would like to do and she said ‘well done, keep running’.”

Dame Kelly officially opened the Heron’s Reach hotel’s fitness suite following a £5m refurbishment while launching her own fitness programme, Perfect Fit.