Black, White & Gold: My Autobiography, by Kelly Holmes, 2008

The Gist

Kelly describes her birth as ‘an accident no-one wanted to happen.’ Her mother was 17. Her parent gave her an ultimatum: have the baby adopted or move out. Kelly’s mother moved out and so the difficult journey began. The book is about overcoming adversity in all sort of forms. Care homes, bedsits, being the only young person of colour in an all-white school in Kent, joining in the army at 17, being bullied, leaving for an uncertain career in athletics, injury, more injury and eventually the Olympics and fame.

What’s Good

Kelly Holmes is an interesting character. She’s contemporary insofar as she is a Brit who’s achieved from nothing. Fantastic people emerge from the shadows. People who were there for her. It’s an honest book and uncomfortable at times. If you’re interested in performance sport the detail will also appeal.


The first win and what it does to your mindset and your view of yourself. From a fragile and insecure start, Kelly found a coach, found a sport she was good at, won her first English Schools Championships from nowhere and that set her up to achieve things she pursued later in life.

Something to Try

If you are a coach or a teacher get involved in local sport. Encourage those young people you know to do the same!