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Dame Kelly Holmes talks about 'On Camp with Kelly'

PUBLISHED: 15:39 28 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:03 20 February 2013

Dame Kelly Holmes talks about 'On Camp with Kelly'

Dame Kelly Holmes talks about 'On Camp with Kelly'

Dame Kelly Holmes talks about why On Camp with Kelly will always be her 'baby' and how, seven years on, her training and mentoring initiative has gone from strength to strength.

Dame Kelly Holmes talks about why On Camp with Kelly will always be her baby and how, seven years on, her training and mentoring initiative has gone from strength to strength.

I have written before about my mentoring and education programmes, but thought I would give you further insight into my baby On Camp with Kelly, inspired by my desire to maintain British middle-distance athletics. I believed that athletes could learn from my life and experiences, with its mix of success and setbacks, and that it would help them develop in their own careers. I also hoped this initiative would help retain athletes in the sport during their teenage years, when the drop-out rates are traditionally high.

I took the Idea to Aviva (then Norwich Union) and they could see the benefits for the next generation of British middle-distance athletes and were keen to fund my initiative: On Camp with Kelly was born! In its early stages in August 2004 I won my double Olympic medals, but despite my life turning upside down, my vision was to keep driving OCWK forward. I wanted it to be an educational development programme for athletes to gain life experience as well as learn what it takes to become a world-class athlete. Ive been running OCWK for seven years now and at the start only eight talented young female middle-distance athletes were selected to participate in the first OCWK camp in South Africa in October-November 2004. With Avivas continued support, it has gone from strength to strength. I now have 45 elite female middle-distance athletes aged 16-24 and in 2008 for the first time 15 male middle-distance athletes joined us as a development squad.

Each year we have one or two On Camp with Kelly races at UK Athletics televised events or other selected meetings. OCWK has also sourced international race opportunities for leading athletes on the programmes. Each has been assigned to a category Gold, Silver or Bronze which entitles them to different levels of mentoring support from me, plus medical and financial support.

More recently, I hosted a week camp at Tonbridge School for my OCWK athletes for 100 young athletes aged 11-18 from local athletics clubs and schools. My team devised and organised a training session with activities and fun games designed to help them learn the principles of athletics training. They also took part in workshops on goal setting, nutrition and media. The whole group then came together for a pilates session with Sandrine Walker, who runs her own pilates studio in Tunbridge Wells. It was good to see some athletes from my old school Hugh Christie Technology College attend with my former PE Teacher Debbie Page, who is still teaching PE after all these years! I chose to hold the training session for Kent athletes at Tonbridge School because it has outstanding facilities and I used to train there myself.

Today I run On Camp with Kelly through my company Double Gold Enterprises Ltd, with the support of Emily Lewis, our full-time project manager, and a dedicated team of staff for OCWK events. I plan to continue OCWK, making it bigger and better every year with the backing of Aviva, through 2012 and beyond. I am sure some of my athletes will become the stars of the future!

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