Athletics: Holmes benefitting from new realism

SO IMMERSED was Kelly Holmes in her return to the athletics scene in Glasgow on Sunday that she missed the team bus back to the hotel because she was signing autographs. She knows now, however, that she is not going to miss the bus as far as the Commonwealth Games are concerned.

On an afternoon when the overall mood was one of celebration, with a sell-out crowd eager to acknowledge Britain's returning European champions, there was a tension about Holmes's race over a mile which had to do with the fear - hers, and the spectators' - that her first serious competition after a 13-month absence with injury might end in tears.

After a cautious start, the way in which she broke clear of Paula Radcliffe just before the bell answered the unspoken question in everybody's minds. The sharpness was still lacking, but the strength, and competitive spirit, were still there.

Holmes will not race again before starting the defence of the 1500 metres title she won in Victoria four years ago. Instead, she will travel to Ireland for further treatment with the massage therapist whom she credits with saving her career, Ger Hartmann.

After breaking down in the heats of last year's world championships with a ruptured Achilles tendon, the 28-year-old Tonbridge athlete has endured a nightmarish period of exile. Following an ineffective operation to clear scar tissue in January, she was still questioning whether she had a future in the sport as late as of May.

"It was a lonely, hard year," she said. "It got to the stage where I just didn't know where to look. Your mind starts to play tricks on you when you can't see any way of getting back. I wasn't going to give up, but it was very hard to see a future."

But the future was bright; the future was Hartmann. Through Britain's team doctor, Malcolm Brown, Holmes was put in contact with the man whom Liz McColgan said had saved her career four years ago, and the work of rehabilitation began in earnest.

For four days, as Hartmann manipulated the scar tissue on her leg to restore mobility to her ankle, the woman who used to be an Army PT instructor and judo champion was reduced to tears. "It was agony," she said. "But it was worthwhile."

Holmes's sequence of injuries in recent years - shin splints in 1995, a stress fracture which she attempted in vain to disregard at the 1996 Olympics - has caused many to question whether she has tended to over- train. Her most recent injury occurred during a final session of preparation for last year's world championships, which she had approached in the form of her life.

She says now that she has altered her approach. "I've learnt what things my body can and can't take," she said. "There is a line between being very fit and being injured, and you don't always know where the line is. But if I'm tired now, I will have a rest day, whereas before I would probably just have gone out for another session."

On a smaller scale, Glasgow represented a confirmation of health for another British woman athlete, namely Allison Curbishley, who set a Scottish All Comers' 400m record of 50.73sec. For Curbishley, who plans to move up to 400m hurdles next season, it was an unexpected bonus after a European Championship where her disappointment at finishing only fifth in the individual event was tempered by the relay medal.

"I was in the shape of my mind and I really saw myself being up there," she said. "When you are not, you go back to the team hotel really desolate. Now I am back in `pb' ways and, as the cliche goes, I'm over the moon."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower