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Going for goals: The story of Kelly Holmes

To use the story of the perseverance of Kelly Holmes as a model for going for goals (SEAL theme 4: Going for goals).

by Manon Ceridwen Parry

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To use the story of the perseverance of Kelly Holmes as a model for going for goals (SEAL theme 4: Going for goals).

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. Explain that you are going to tell the story of Kelly Holmes because you want to explore the theme of going for goals.

    Does anyone know who Kelly Holmes is?

    She was the winner of two gold medals in the 2004 Olympics. She won gold in the 800 metres and in the 1500 metres.

    She was Sports Personality of the Year in 2004 and was made a Dame in 2005.
  2. Clearly Kelly Holmes is someone with a lot of talent. Surely, therefore, it must have been easy for her to achieve her goals? But was it?

    No, her journey to her goals was difficult and long.

    First of all, she’s short – only 5 feet 3 inches.

    She’s also mixed race and was one of the few Black children growing up on her estate.

    In her teens she turned her back on running and went into the army, first driving trucks and then as a physical training instructor. And she did well in her army career, becoming a sergeant. However, she saw an old rival from her schooldays running in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and thought she could do just as well. So she started training again and ran in competitions from 1993 onwards.

    She was picked for the Olympics at Atlanta Games in 1996. But she had an injury, a fractured leg. All the same, she still managed to come fourth.

    In the World Championships of 1997 she was the favourite to win the 1500 metres as she was five seconds faster than her nearest rival. But with 200 metres to go her leg gave way because of an old injury. She still finished, but came in last, half a lap behind her fellow runners, and collapsed in tears at the finishing line.

    Everyone thought her running days were over. But she kept going.

    For the 2000 Sydney Olympics she could only train for six weeks as she was ill with a virus. But she still won bronze in the 800 metres.

    By this point she must have felt she was always ill or struggling with injury. Interviews at this time reveal that she also struggled with feelings of sadness and self doubt. (She struggled with self harm and depression, so her mental health problems will need to be spoken about sensitively, or referred to in very general terms, depending on the context.)

    She was 34 when she arrived at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She was ranked number 11 in the world, and wasn’t even the fastest runner in Britain – Hayley Tullett was Britain’s number 1. On top of that, her old leg injury had come back again. No one expected her to do very well. She is even quoted in newspapers at the time as saying: ‘I was just waiting for something not to go right.’

    So what happened at the Athens Olympics? (If you have access to the Internet, you could show the YouTube clip here, see ‘Preparation and materials’.) Despite everything, she won both her races. She won gold for the 800 metres and gold for the 1500 metres.

    Even though she had doubts, problems, injuries, she kept on going and in the end her dream came true. And everyone was delighted.
  3. Maybe we have goals in our lives; they can be big ones or small ones, from learning to tie our shoelaces to getting our dream job. (If appropriate, you may like to talk briefly at this point about a goal of your own, and the setbacks and successes, doubts and failures you faced.)

    When we achieve our goal, however small, we feel really good about ourselves. 
  4. What we sometimes need to do is just keep on going, just as Kelly Holmes did.

    Things might go wrong along the way. We may never believe we will get there. But we need to keep on going for our goal, and we just might get there in the end.

    Development

    This theme can be linked to the story of Simeon and Anna in the Temple (Luke 2.22–38). They were both elderly and must have felt that the Chosen One, the Messiah, was never going to come in their lifetime. But they kept following God’s way, kept worshipping in the Temple, and were rewarded in their old age by seeing Jesus himself, when Mary and Joseph brought him to the Temple as a tiny baby to dedicate him to God.

    Sometimes we have to wait a long time for our goal.  

Time for reflection

Think about your small and your big goals. 

How will you make them happen? 

Don’t let doubts get in the way – we all have doubts. Kelly Holmes did. 

Don’t let setbacks worry you too much – Kelly Holmes had several.

Don’t let delays put you off – Simeon and Anna waited a very long time.

It’s about keeping on keeping going.

Song/music

‘Praise Him’ (Come and Praise, 40)

Publication date: February 2013   (Vol.15 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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