Athletics: Holmes targets Athens as fall hits title hopes

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The Independent Online

A day after the fall which ended what she regarded as her last chance of winning a global title, Kelly Holmes was still running the World Indoor 1500m final. The event was taking place in her head, over and over again.

The tears, which the 33-year-old world silver and Olympic bronze medallist suppressed in the aftermath of being tripped just over three laps from the end, arrived irresistibly as she reflected upon a victory which, she believed, had been snatched from her by the misfortune that has surfaced so regularly in her 10-year career.

"I wish I could wake up again yesterday and just run it again," she said. "When I came here I thought to myself, 'This is my last chance of getting the world title.' I always say I hope to get a medal, but deep down in my heart I really, really believed I could win here." Instead of forcing the pace, her rivals Kutre Dulecha of Ethiopia, the eventual winner, and Belarus's Alesya Turova hung back, a situation Holmes believed played into her hands, even though she was only sixth in the bunch when she fell.

"I knew that as long as I was on Dulecha's shoulder at 500 metres the race was mine. I was ready to make my move - and then I was just down. I don't know what happened. I fell pretty hard and was sliding along the floor. My instinct was to get up and chase the others, but you just don't realise how a fall like that takes it out of you."

There has only been one worse disappointment for Holmes - comforted after the race by her training partner Maria Mutola and coach Margo Jennings - and that came when she ruptured an Achilles tendon at the 1997 World Championships, when she was clear favourite for the 1500m.

"I don't run for the money," she said haltingly, her head bowed after the tears had stopped. "I run to do the best I can do. I take a lot - bad things get written about me in the papers. But this hurts more than any of that.

"That's why I keep coming back - because I want it so bad. I put my life into this, totally. But this is going to make me more determined for Athens. I know this should have been my time. But maybe it will be this year."