Double Olympic gold medal winner and British athletics legend Kelly Holmes opened the University’s new athletics track and stadium on Saturday, leading a fun run around the track before part-taking in a Q&A session in the Roger Kirk Centre, led by BBC Yorkshire Sports Presenter Tanya Arnold.
Kelly led students, families and local children in two laps of the new £2m track before answering a host of questions from the gathered audience, overrunning by half an hour to respond to as many as she could.
Kelly praised the University’s role in sustaining the spirit of the local area, calling it an “important community base”. She also encouraged that the new facilities be “maintained and kept going” to inspire and equip future generations of successful athletes.
Kelly Holmes: “Sport brought me alive, it gave me an identity”
She also talked about her extensive work with community outreach charities, and shared stories from her time based at Fulford Barracks during her army days. She said that the army taught her “a discipline that you need in sport”, and that she has always loved York.
Kelly talked openly about her difficulties in dealing with depression, explaining that, for her, “the highs and lows of sports are so extreme and quite dramatic”. She explained her belief that depression in young people is “becoming more prevalent” and needs “support, talk and access” to combat the trend.
In answer to a being asked by a young fan and aspiring 1500 metre-runner what it feels like to win an Olympic gold medal, Kelly invited him on stage to take her seat and answer for her. “It’d be incredible!” he answered.
The new athletics track is free for all to use, and is open to the public and students now.