Kelly was born on 19th April 1970 in Pembury, Kent. She was educated at Hildenborough Church of England Primary School and the Hugh Christie Comprehensive School in Tonbridge.
Kelly won the ESAA Junior 1500m title in 1983 and the ESAA Senior 1500m title in 1987, having finished 3rd in the 1986 ESAA Intermediate 1500m final behind Bruce Tulloh’s daughters, Katherine and Jojo. In 1988 Kelly then decided on a career in the British Army and for the following 4 years effectively turned her back on athletics. Like other ESAA leavers, she focused her energy very effectively on another sport and won the British Army judo championship. In 1992, although still in the army, she restarted her athletics career; within only 2 years she had become the Commonwealth Games champion and European Championships silver medallist in the 1500m.
Road to the 2004 Olympics
From 1993 to 2003 Kelly amassed a superb collection of medals at the major championships, namely 1 Olympic bronze, 3 World Championships medals, another European Championships medal and 2 more Commonwealth Games medals (including the gold in Manchester in 2002 in the 1500m). It is fair to say that, but for injuries, her medal tally would have been even more amazing.
The 2004 Olympics was the pinnacle of Kelly’s career. She became the first British double gold medallist at an Olympics since 1920 in taking the 800m and 1500m titles. Her time in the 1500m was a new British record. She was given the honour of carrying the British flag at the closing ceremony. After retiring from athletics, she developed the ‘On Camp with Kelly’ scheme, mentoring promising junior female middle-distance athletes, including ESAA medallists Dani Christmas and Hannah England, World Championship silver medallist.
- 2000 Olympic Games 1500m silver, 2004 Olympic Games 800m and 1500m gold
- 1995 World Championships 800m and 1500m silver, 2003 World Championships 800m silver
- 1994 European Championships 1500m silver, 2002 European Championships 800m bronze
- 1994 Commonwealth Games 1500m gold, 1998 Commonwealth Games1500m silver, 2002 Commonwealth Games1500m gold
- 10 national titles
- MBE in 1998, DBE in 2005.
- BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2004.
- She was made Honorary Colonel of the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment in 2008.