British Olympic heroine starts her charity work in Malawi

Retired British middle distance athlete, Dame Kelly Holmes, DBE, arrived in Malawi for a series of sporting and charitable events and on Saturday,  October 5 she visited Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, held a sporting masterclass at the College of Medicine Sports Complex to advance issues that are dear to her — maternal health minority sports.

Dame Holmes (right) and British High Commissioner Holly Tott (centre) interacting with Sports Minister Kasaila during the sports function at Ryalls Hotel

From there, Holmes attended a sports reception hosted by the British High Commission at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre where the guest of honour was Minister of Sports Francis Kasaila that was also graced by Malawi netball team, veteran sports personalities and several sports administrators.

Accompanying her are 20 athletes from UK, who are set to take on what is called ‘Orbis 2018 Challenge’ — running up and down Mulanje Mountain, cycling across Zomba Plateau and kayaking on Lake Malawi.

This expedition is in conjunction with Orbis Expedition which is launching the ‘Sport with a Purpose’ campaign aimed at raising awareness of key organisations working towards improving nutrition in Malawi.

The athlete and her team will visit several community initiatives while in Malawi, raising awareness about health and well-being in Malawi, and interact with a cast of sports personalities and officials for mentorship, lesson-sharing and networking.

She will also participate in a netball tournament featuring several Blantyre-based teams aimed at building sporting links between the UK and Malawi, thus the presence of the Queens at the sports reception hosted by the British High Commission at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre.

Holmes made special recognition of the Queens, telling them to believe in themselves because they are at the top and they need to stay there.

“You have been our greatest rival and when I watched you play England for the first time, you beat us and it was a wonderful game. What I can say is that when an opportunity comes, grab it and when you believe in yourselves, you can go further than expected.”

She said she has only been in Malawi for just two days but she is already enjoying her stay because all she has been told and learnt about Malawi being the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ has come to pass.

“I have discovered myself how beautiful Malawi is and am looking forward to seeing the beauty of Lake Malawi and to know more this country,” said Holmes, who is a retired British middle distance athlete that specialised in the 800 metres and 1500 metres events.

She won a gold medal for both distances at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and she set British records in numerous events and still holds the records over the 600, 800 and 1000 metre distances.

Minister Kasaila said Malawi is very proud to host the Olympic hero, saying her interaction with the youths will inspire them to aim high in their sports ambition.

“The majority of people in Malawi are under my Ministry but not all of them can get official office jobs. But it is up to us to make them realise they can create their own offices through what they are capable of in sports.

“It requires high profile athletes like you who can inspire them to aim higher and create job opportunities through sports. The Malawi Government is proud of your visit and we wish you a marvelous experience in your noble expedition,” Kasaila said.

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