Golden glow of mother who saw daughter's Olympic win victory

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The Independent Online

For Kelly Holmes, it was an early night before getting straight back to work in the heats of the 1,500 metres. But for Pam Thomson, her daughter's completion of the finest piece of middle-distance running by a Briton for 20 years could not pass without celebration.

For Kelly Holmes, it was an early night before getting straight back to work in the heats of the 1,500 metres. But for Pam Thomson, her daughter's completion of the finest piece of middle-distance running by a Briton for 20 years could not pass without celebration.

Ms Thomson, 52, emerged from her home in Kent yesterday morning with a broad grin and a sore head to reveal that she had been unable to travel to Athens to watch her daughter's victory in the 800 metres final of the Olympic Games because she does not have a passport. Instead, she joined 8.3 million other Britons watching on television as Holmes came from last place to win.

Ms Thomson said she watched the race with friends and family: "It was nerve-racking," she said. "Kelly spoke to me last night, and then I went to celebrate.I am so proud of her."

As the nation celebrated its first track gold medal of the Athens games, Ms Thomson confirmed that her daughter had been unable to toast her own success because of the qualifying heats last night for the 1,500 metres - the event which until Monday Holmes had considered her strongest.

Ms Thomson said: "She's feeling good. The only question is whether the hunger is still there - but it's her favourite event."

The delighted mother said her daughter was having difficulty coming to terms with her victory after an athletics career blighted by injuries.

In 1997 in the city where she emerged triumphant last night, Holmes was forced to pull out of the 1,500 metres in the world championships after tearing a calf muscle. A year earlier, at the Atlanta Olympics, Holmes ran with a stress fracture of her leg (she finished fourth in the 800 metres), and spent seven weeks in plaster.

Victory for the 34-year-old athlete, and a lucrative income from sponsorship and endorsements, has not come via a conventional route. A schoolgirl athletics champion, she put her track career behind her at the age of 18 to join the Army, becoming a sergeant as a fitness instructor.

But in 1992 she decided to dedicate herself to athletics. By 1995 she had set British records in the 800 metres and 1,500 metres and won bronze and silver respectively in the world championships. But her injuries held her back.

She returned to the medals in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, taking a bronze in the 800 metres, only to finish seventh in the 1,500 metres. After a disappointing sixth in the World Championships in 2001 and string of second places in Golden League meetings in following years, she took silver in the 1,500 metres at the World Indoor Championships in 2003. This result was repeated in the 800m in the World Championships later that year. Since 2003, she has finished in the medals 10 times in major competitions.

Such thoughts of injuries were far from Ms Thomson's mind yesterday. Asked if she was considering an emergency passport application in time for Saturday's 1,500 metres final, she said she had never applied because she is afraid of flying.

Ms Thomson admitted she did not share her daughter's athletic prowess: "My heart was beating, I felt sick. Physically I don't think I could take it in Athens."

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