Dame Kelly backs athletics legacy
DAME Kelly Holmes is adamant London's Olympic Stadium should be kept for athletics after 2012.
The debate over the stadium's legacy use has intensified over recent weeks, with calls from some quarters for it to be converted to be used full-time by a football club.
But the 2004 double Olympic champion believes getting rid of the athletics track would be a mistake.
She said: "Personally I think an athletics stadium should stay as an athletics stadium. In Europe they mix football with athletics and we need a big focal point.
"We're talking about leaving a legacy of sport and athletics is always a focal point for the Olympics. For once we should remember it for what it was instead of what it ends up [as]."
Dame Kelly was guest of honour at the East London Business Alliance's employee volunteer awards at the East Wintergarden on Tuesday evening.
She is helping mentor young athletes through her involvement with Elba's Banking on Talent scheme, as well as her own programmes.
She said: "A lot of businesses have put financial input into the development of these young people. My background is really the education and what it takes to be the best.
"They have obviously identified this group, so I wanted to make sure what we give them is the other surrounding network - the family support, the parents, the coaches - and we're really looking at it as a family of support given to these up-and-coming youngsters.
"With the Banking on Talent youngsters what we do with the education and mentoring is everything you are not told as a sports person.
"If you go out and are successful at your sport, you do your sport. But people don't tell you how to get over the disappointments, the injuries.
"When youngsters grow up they get a lot of body issues in terms of breakdowns, getting ill, and learning things about how to develop coaching alongside the athlete that's excelled.
"Also, what it's going to take, the pathway that's needed and goal-setting. There is so much more to it.
"So because all my experiences and career was a complete and utter rollercoaster ride I can now pass that on to the up-and-coming athletes.
"I have mentoring and training programmes myself, including 'On Camp with Kelly', for 56 of the top junior 800 and 1,500 metre runners, both boys and girls.
"I've been working with a group of them for four years now and some of them are now moving into the senior ranks or winning world junior titles.
"We're seeing some big developments but there's no guarantees. But as long as I can keep them in the sport there's a chance someone will make it."
But it's not just about identifying the elite talent, it's also about giving youngsters the chance to try different sports, according to Dame Kelly.
She said: "Identifying talent is always a tough one in terms of guidelines and what your boundaries for that are.
"Of course there are so many different types of talent out there in sport. If someone excels in school you can say they've got a great talent.
"If somebody's a very good club athlete or somebody rises to the ranks of national or international standard of course they are identified talent.
"But what you need to do is give people opportunities in life to be able to participate in something so their natural ability can show through. Then they are identified and put into a network like Banking on Talent and we take it from there."
Britain's athletes had a disappointing time in Beijing, with only Stratford's Christine Ohurugou claiming a title, but Dame Kelly is cautiously optimistic about success in the London Olympics.
She said: "[British] Athletics has gone through a real sticky point in the last few years. There's always been some success but athletics has always placed itself as the premier sport in the Olympics, you always hope for Olympic champions and more medals than just a handful.
"It's going through a massive change-around, a total restructuring. We have the talent, it just needs to be nurtured in the right way and hopefully the successes in 2012 will come and it will be worth all the changes and worth all the doldrums."