New campaign created with aim of highlighting the value of world-class athletes to society beyond sport

Double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes has launched a new campaign in the hope of highlighting what world-class athletes can bring to society beyond sport.

‘More Than Medals’ is being run by the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, which provides support to athletes in their lives outside of sport and utilises their attitudes, behaviours and experiences with the aim of empowering young people facing disadvantage.

The inaugural More Than Medals conference was hosted by Deloitte in Central London on Monday, with more than 200 leaders from across sport and business discussing new research and listening to keynote speeches from Holmes and UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl.

It included further detail on the potential of what Dame Kelly Holmes Trust CEO Emma Atkins described as the “wasted workforce” to contribute to strengthening the UK economy, developing communities, empowering young people, tackling inactivity and supporting athlete wellbeing.

“Every year hundreds of world-class athletes reach a position where they need to consider their lives beyond sport. This will be even higher during an Olympic and Paralympic year,” said Holmes, who is founder and president of the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

“I’ve experienced first-hand the importance of receiving crucial support at this stage in my life, to ensure everything I’d built up and learnt could be used positively off the track. I’m not convinced that enough awareness has been made in the past surrounding the ability of athletes to take their high-performing qualities into other arenas, when trained appropriately.

“More Than Medals will prove what I’ve believed for many years and I’m confident it will alter perceptions about the wider role athletes can play in society.”

Talking to AW about the levels of support given by sports governing bodies to help transition athletes, Holmes said: “It’s mostly not very much, if I’m honest. That’s why we’re launching the campaign. It’s making people realise the assets they have in sport and the values these sportspeople can give to the wider area.

“Not everyone is going to be a champion or a medallist. There’s only ever a handful of people who are. There are hundreds of people who need another thought about what they might do if it doesn’t work out.”

Nicholl said: “The UK’s talented athletes are among this nation’s greatest assets. The sacrifices each one has had to make to be selected on to UK Sport’s World Class Programme and then to reach the level of performance needed to secure selection to compete at the Olympic or Paralympic Games is a major feat that can only be achieved with immense commitment, raw talent and great support.

“The lessons the athletes learn on their journey can be applied in other fields and industries and the full extent of their reach and impact has not yet been realised.

“We welcome this campaign to highlight the tremendous value that our athletes can bring to society and the UK economy.”

Professor David Lavallee of the University of Stirling, who helped conduct research with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust which has shown sportspeople to have huge value to add to society, commented: “We are extremely excited to be sharing new research as part of the More Than Medals campaign, which demonstrates the high performance of athletes in employment beyond sport.

“The findings also highlight the positive impact athletes can have within any workplace and those around them.”

» Further information can be found at www.damekellyholmestrust.org