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Britain’s Kelly Holmes celebrates her victory in the women’s 1500 metres final at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. She has now come out as gay, aged 52, after “years of heartache”. Photo: Reuters

Kelly Holmes, 52, British Olympic athletics champion, comes out as gay after ‘years of heartache’

  • Dame Kelly, a former army officer who won two golds in Athens in 2004, told a newspaper she had known she was gay since she was 17
  • She said she hid her sexuality for fear of repercussions as UK did not allow gay, lesbian, bisexual people to serve in military until 2000, after she had left

Britain’s double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes has revealed she is gay, saying she was nervous and excited about coming out in a move that could have saved her years of heartache.

The 52-year-old, who won gold in the 800 and 1,500 metres at the 2004 Games in Athens, said on Saturday she had known she was gay since she was 17.

“I needed to do this now, for me. It was my decision. I’m nervous about saying it. I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement,” Holmes told the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

“Sometimes I cry with relief. The moment this (interview) comes out, I’m essentially getting rid of that fear.”

British Olympic champion Kelly Holmes in 2016. Photo: SCMP
Holmes, a former army officer who left in 1997 to concentrate on athletics, said she had hidden her sexuality for fear of repercussions, because Britain did not allow gay, lesbian and bisexual people to serve in the military until 2000.
Her fears were alleviated when she contacted a military LGBTQ+ leader in 2020, who assured her that she would not face sanctions for coming out, she said.

“I was convinced throughout my whole life that if I admitted to being gay in the army I’d still be in trouble,” Kelly said. “I felt like I could breathe again (after the call). One little call could have saved 28 years of heartache.”