While athletes competed at the just-concluded Commonwealth Games, there was a soul who was in the Capital for a different purpose. Dame Kelly Holmes, president of Commonwealth Games England, was here with a group of seven girls to promote athletics under her programme, 'On camp with Kelly'.
Besides the seven, there were three others from the programme - Hana England, Emma Jackson and Charlotte, who had turned out for England at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
While Hanna touched her personal best in 800m and stood 4th, Charlotte too finished 4th in 10,000m and 5,000m.“I am happy the girls got good exposure, this will help them in the 2012 London Olympics and 2014 Glasgow Games,” said Kelly. “All the girls enrolled in the programme are middle-distance runners and have personal coaches, but I am like a mentor to them,” she added.
‘On camp with Kelly’, sponsored by a global insurance firm, was started in 2004, even before Kelly had won a double gold at the Athens Olympics in 800m and 1500m. To begin with, the programme supported eight girls, but now there are 52 in the camp.
Earlier this week, Kelly visited the Indian Institute of Technology campus with the girls to conduct a camp for 150 children, many of whom were from nearby slums.
“My purpose of coming to Delhi was not only to enjoy the Games, but also to pass on the experience to underprivileged children. I was happy to see that 130 of them turned out,” said Kelly.
But it was not she who trained the children, rather the girls who did the job.
“I want the girls to gain exposure and pass on their experience to society. This is the best possible way to do that,” said Kelly.
In the midst of her philanthropic activities, Kelly had a great time. “As president of CWG England, I can say that the Games were great. Our teams will go back with positive vibes and I am very impressed by the competition. The Village is just amazing and so are the competition venues,” she said.