Dame Kelly Holmes has been named as the new President of the Commonwealth Games England, succeeding Sir Chris Chataway who is retiring from the post which he has held since 1994.
The announcement comes on the day England’s most successful female track athlete addresses a cross-party group of MP’s at the House of Commons about the importance of the Commonwealth Games, especially for those on a pathway to Olympic success.
The former Army physical trainer, who went on to make history at the 2004 Athens Olympics by becoming the first British female athlete to win two gold medals at the same Games, said:
“I am absolutely thrilled that Commonwealth Games England have asked me to take up this role. The Commonwealth Games have a continuing and important role within performance sport.”
She continued: “They are unique in their own right and offer athletes the opportunity to experience a big, multi-sport event but they can also play a crucial role as a stepping stone towards Olympic success. That certainly was the case for me.”
Holmes, who has represented England at three Commonwealth Games, winning two gold medals and a silver, is hoping to use her high profile to boost public interest in the Games, which for many athletes will be an important stepping -stone towards London 2012. Among her key objectives is underlining the importance of the Commonwealth Games as one of the “Crown Jewels” of British terrestrial television coverage.
She said: “The Games have always been well covered on terrestrial TV and I absolutely think that will continue for Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014.”
Dame Kelly believes flag waving should not be confined to football and wants people to get behind Team England at the Commonwealths.
“We want England’s Commonwealth Games team to get the same support as the football and rugby teams get. We want people to get behind the English flag, just as they do for the Scottish and Welsh flags. The Scottish and the Welsh have always made a great thing of their nationality – so why not us?”
Her appointment forms part of a series of exciting new developments for the Commonwealth Games organisation, which is determined to provide the right performance platform for athletes competing in Delhi in 2010 and Glasgow in 2014.
The Commonwealth Games England chairman Sir Andrew Foster said: “Dame Kelly has been an outstanding athlete both for Team England and Great Britain. She is a truly inspirational and respected figure in the sporting world and will be a wonderful ambassador for Commonwealth Games England.”
Hannah Galloway, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
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