Athletics: Holmes cruises to win and boosts hopes of Olympic glory

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The Independent Online

Kelly Holmes will return to her South African training base today convinced that her preparations for the Olympic Games in Athens are firmly on course.

The Commonwealth 1,500 metres champion took a brilliant one-mile victory in the Balmoral road races ahead of Hayley Tullett and Helen Clitheroe on Saturday.

Holmes finished in 4min 29sec, almost six seconds faster than her winning time in 2003. Meanwhile, Tullett finished four seconds in arrears and Clitheroe came home in a time of 4min 35sec.

Holmes benefited from the blistering opening pace, where the talented field covered the first 440 yards in 64sec - quicker than the men achieved a few minutes earlier in their race.

Holmes, who will run her first 1,500m track race in Hengelo at the end of the month, said: "Of course I'm delighted with the time, but more importantly the win, and the race, have shown my Olympic preparations have been along the right track.

"My preparations are certainly much better than they were last year and also I've had no injuries to cause me any bother. But I'm not going to get complacent and take anything for granted."

Holmes, whose training partner is the defending Olympic 800m champion, Maria Mutola, added: "There's a lot of more hard work - particularly speed-based - ahead for both of us. But this result clearly shows that, although my victory was based on strength, I am going in the right direction."

Craig Mottram produced the best performance of the day, winning the Event Scotland 5km race by eight seconds ahead of Kenya's John Kibowen, with Sergiy Lebid of the Ukraine in third.

Mottram's time of 13min 21sec was the fastest in the world this year and he also beat the Australian road record for the distance by 20 seconds.