Dame Kelly Holmes is celebrating a breakthrough in her mentoring scheme, as two of her protégés - Hannah England and Tara Bird - made their senior debut for the Aviva GB & NI Team and represented their country at the European Indoor Championships at the weekend.
Since winning double gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004, Dame Kelly Holmes has focused her attentions to mentoring young athletes, preparing them for 2012 and beyond. Her ‘On Camp with Kelly’ mentoring and training initiative gives young middle distance runners the opportunity to learn and benefit from her own knowledge and experiences as a world-class athlete.
The scheme was originally developed for promising female athletes, but was recently expanded in the last year to include male athletes as well. It is also having a positive effect on retaining athletes within the sport.
There has been considerable research which looks into the reasons for teenagers dropping out of sport - in particular teenage girls, who drop out of sport at a faster rate than boys. A report conducted by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) in 2008 suggested three key reasons why some girls who played sport regularly decided to stop: peer group and societal values; lack of enjoyment; and low confidence.
Since On Camp with Kelly started, 96% of the young athletes in the scheme are still competing in athletics. Whilst the athletes all credit the initiative for helping them in things such as race preparation, supporting them through injury, and overall motivation and inspiration to continue following their dreams, most also credit it with helping them in their own personal development - by increasing their self-confidence and self-belief, and helping them mature as a people as well as an athlete.
She plans to continue On Camp with Kelly, making it bigger and better through to 2012 and beyond.