Holmes makes history with golden double

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Kelly Holmes tonight ran her way into the history books by striking gold in the 1500 metres.

Kelly Holmes tonight ran her way into the history books by striking gold in the 1500 metres.

It completed a dream double for the 34-year-old from Kent, after she won gold in the 800m here on Monday - and she did it in breathtaking style by setting a new British record with her winning time of 3:57.90.

Victory in the Olympic Stadium meant Holmes became the first Briton for 84 years to achieve the Olympic middle-distance double, a feat last performed by Albert Hill in the 1920 Games in Antwerp - although the women's 1500m was only introduced in the 1972 Games.

There was huge British support in the stadium when the final got under way and it was business as usual as Holmes continued her tactic of racing at the back of the back but keeping the early leader in her sights.

She was eighth out of the 12 at the bell but moved up to third at the 150m mark and then made it look oh-so-easy as she cruised clear with 50 metres to go and powered over the line.

This time - unlike Monday's close finish - Holmes was smiling before she crossed the line, fully aware that she had won her second Olympic title.

Holmes went one better than Britain's former middle-distance stars Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, who tried and failed to do the coveted double.

Coe, one of Holmes' heroes, won gold at 1500m and Ovett triumphed over 800m, but neither man managed it at both distances.

The former army sergeant, who put the secret of her success down to a diet of cashew nuts and ice baths, is two years older than British sprinter Linford Christie was when he took the 100m title at the Barcelona Games in 1992.

Holmes' double triumph in the space of five days in the Olympic Stadium banished the memory of the last time she was in Athens, at the 1997 World Championships, when a ruptured Achilles tendon ended her 1500m hopes in the heats.

She also made up for her previous Olympic 1500m performances. In Atlanta in 1996 she finished 11th and four years ago in Sydney she was seventh.

This was Britain's 28th medal of the Athens Games, equalling the total won four years ago, although there were 11 golds in Sydney compared to the eight here so far, with boxer Amir Khan hoping to strike gold tomorrow.