2. 2004 Olympic Games – injury-free Holmes prevails in Athens blockbuster
KELLY HOLMES did commendably well to overcome a myriad of injuries and illnesses to make back-to-back 800/1500m finals in Atlanta and Sydney but arriving in Athens, Holmes for once, was free from the shackles of any troublesome injuries and in good form, albeit without any substantial expectations from the media. Despite the toughest semi-final draw in the 800m, Holmes eased through in a season’s best of 1:57.98 and even though Maria Mutola also progressed from the third semi-final (or should that be tri-final?), Steve Cram and Brendan Foster both agreed Holmes looked the most impressive.
Holmes tracked Mutola as she launched her bid for a second title down the back straight and the Brit, who sensibly moved wide off the final bend, drew even with the reigning champion at the top of the home straight. The exertions of the final were palpable as the training partners slugged out the contest and recent history suggested Mutola, who hadn’t lost a major race since 1999, would prevail despite being hamstrung with injuries in the build-up. Holmes, who raced in Atlanta with a stress fracture, was clearly no stranger to pushing through the pain barrier and Mutola was the first to blink as her form gave way metres before the finish.
One of the memorable images of the 2004 Games was Holmes’ face which went from jubilation to uncertainty in a flash but these were soon allayed after Holmes’ victory was confirmed by an in-field official. Her winning time of 1:56.38 was her fastest since 1995 and the margin of victory of five-hundredths from a charging Hasna Benhassi was the smallest in Olympic history.