Dame Kelly Holmes has revealed that she is gay, stating that she "needed to do this now."
Speaking during Pride Month, the two-time Olympic gold winner revealed that she first realised she was homosexual when she was 17, and that her family and friends had known since 1997.
She told the Sunday Mirror: “I needed to do this now, for me. It was my decision. I’m nervous about saying it. I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement.
“Sometimes I cry with relief. The moment this comes out, I’m essentially getting rid of that fear.”
Here is everything you need to know about her.
‘I was convinced I’d still be in trouble’
Dame Kelly also said that having to hide her sexuality had a negative impact on her mental health, and that she had to hide multiple same-sex relationships she had while serving in the Women’s Royal Army Corps for fear of being court marshalled.
She expressed her anxiety that she would be penalised for being lesbian and serving in the Army in her interview with the Mirror.
It was unlawful for gay, lesbian and bisexual people to serve in the British Army, Royal Navy or RAF until 2000, and she felt she would still face consequences for breaching the law while in the military.
She recalled an instance in which the Royal Military Police searched her accommodation in what she believed to be an attempt to uncover evidence of her sexuality.
“They pulled everything out of your cupboard, turned out the beds and drawers, read letters - everything - trying to catch us out, so we could be arrested, court martialled and potentially go to jail,” she said.
“I was convinced throughout my whole life that if I admitted to being gay in the Army I’d still be in trouble.”
In 2020, she approached a military LGBTQ+ leader to see if she would be sanctioned for breaking army rules, but she was told she would not.
She said: “I felt like I could breathe again, one little call could have saved 28 years of heartache.”
When is Being Me on?
In 2008, Dame Kelly founded a charity to help retired athletes transition out of sport, and to provide mentoring programmes to encourage young people from underprivileged backgrounds to participate in sports.
The Olympic champion has received an outpouring of appreciation on social media: comedian Alan Carr, professional dancer Oti Mabuse, music producer Naughty Boy, and drag queen Baga Chipz are among the celebrities who have expressed their support.
She’s also working on a documentary called Being Me on her experiences, in which she interviews LGBTQ+ soldiers about their current life in the military.
The ITV documentary will focus on helping people "live their real lives” she said, and will be broadcast later this month.
At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Dame Kelly became only the third woman in history and the first Briton since Albert Hill 84 years ago to win the 800m and 1500m Olympic double.
Throughout her athletic career, she has won seven gold, eight silver and four bronze Olympic, Commonwealth and European medals.
Does she have a husband or children?
Kelly Holmes is not and has never been married. She doesn’t have any children.
As to whether she currently has a partner, details are a little thin on the ground about the athlete’s personal life.
According to ChronicleLive, Holmes “dated a woman between the ages of 27 and 32 but broke it off in 2002 so she could focus on the Athens Olympics.”
According to The Sports Grail, “while she is currently romantically involved with a woman, the two are not married.”