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Ever since I can remember I have loved watching athletics, especially at the major championships like the Olympic Games. There have been many strong British athletes to follow over the years and one of my favourites is Kelly Holmes who's greatest achievements came at the 2004 Athens Olympics when she won two gold medals in the 800 and 1500 metres. Black, White and Gold is her autobiography.
I always prefer reading autobiographies as oppose to biographies (even if they are written with someone else) because I like reading about first hand experiences. Kelly has written this book with the help of someone called Fanny Blake and it makes a very interesting read starting with her early life, following through her days in the army and moving on to her athletics career and beyond. The book was originally written and published in 2005 but has had further updates in 2006 and 2008. The book I have just read is the latest one so it is quite interesting to discover what she has done since those fantastic Olympic victories.
The book is written in a very open and honest way although she does profess to be quite a private person especially where personal relationships are involved. However, she does talk quite frankly about her start in life as a mixed race child to a very young single mother. She could have tried for the sympathy angle but she does not feel like that at all. She had a very good relationship with her mum (mostly) and she states that she never had any problems because of her mixed race.
I was fascinated to read of her life in the army. This also is portrayed in a very positive light. She obviously enjoyed her army career very much and she writes about what a difficult decision it was to leave in order to dedicate herself to full time athletics.
Obviously, her athletics career is the aspect of her life that most people are aware of and I found it really interesting to read all about the training regimes and also the support network of very important people who helped her achieve all that she did. It was lovely to see just how much she appreciated all these people and she acknowledges that she could not have made it on her own. I really appreciated the fact that all the people she mentions in the book (and there are many) are all written about in a very positive way. She does not bad mouth a single person in her book and that makes a refreshing change compared to some other autobiographies I have read.
Her career was not all plain sailing though as she is well known to have suffered more than her fair share of injuries over the years. She is extremely honest as she relives some of her lowest moments and you can almost feel the pain and despair with her.
It is great that she is able to share the height of her success with her readers and how she writes about this is such a contrast to the writing about the injury lows. It's also good to read about how she has gone on to be a great ambassador for sport and was fully involved in the 2012 London bid. I also discovered that she is quite tireless in the work she does to support young athletes and the work she does with schools in order to promote young people's fitness.
This is a very enjoyable book that tells of an extremely interesting life. I love the fact that through her own hard work and determination she became the highly successful athlete that we have come to admire. She writes with openess and honesty and there are times when her story is slightly shocking. What comes through more than anything though is that she is an extremely nice person who almost cannot believe that she has achieved all that she has - so much so that she is now Dame Kelly Holmes. None of this has gone to her head though and she comes across as a very humble and down to earth individual.
This is an excellent book and will be particularly appealing to athletics fans. However, I'm sure that it can also be enjoyed by anyone who just likes to read about an ordinary girl achieving her dreams!
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