Dame Kelly Holmes reveals the meaning of life in 22 probing questions

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Stylist Team
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What will the Olympic gold medallist make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life?

Being the best version of yourself and taking up opportunities that can shape your life.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

Values, respect and honesty.

What is your happy place?

A beautiful path between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek in South Africa. I go up there every time I visit. Mountains, vineyards, blue skies – it’s beautiful.

Nature or nurture?

Nature when it comes to ability and nurture when it comes to talent.

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

Respected, without a doubt.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

Never giving up.

Who or what is your greatest love?

My family and friends. I couldn’t do anything without my friends. 

When did you last lie?

To my nieces and nephews the other day when I nicked their chocolate. But they didn’t believe me because they know I’m a chocoholic. 

Does the supernatural exist?

I really don’t know. I do think it’s a miracle that we are who we are and what has formed around us. I don’t really want to ever say I don’t believe in it because I don’t think anyone really knows what the supernatural actually is. 

Are you fatalistic?

Some things are meant to be and as you go through life, things that you’ve done or you do end up falling into that puzzle. I always had in my head and heart that one day I would win gold and never gave up. The journey that it took me on, which was pretty tough, built my resilience and bridges, so actually I was meant to do that. 

What is your greatest fear?

Drowning. I hate cold water with a passion. I’ve had a fear of drowning since I was a kid. I went on Bear Grylls: Mission Survive and literally had to be pulled out of a lake because I was going to be a goner. It wasn’t a nice experience. 

Animals or babies?

Animals all the way, I have six alpacas. 

What talent do you yearn for? 

I’d love to be able to play the drums or the saxophone, something cool. It would be nice to feel like I could do something and think, ‘I’m really cool here.’

Do you like to be complimented?

Absolutely. You can get embarrassed by it, but it’s nice when people compliment you, in whatever way. To be aware of something nice, or something good that you’ve done, I think it makes people happy.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I have a high pain threshold for injuries, I do not have a high pain threshold for eyebrow threading. I get an injury and I can cope, but eyebrows being threaded? Who invented that?

What book do you recommend most to others?

I once interviewed Eddie Izzard and found him utterly intriguing, so I got his book Believe Me and found it as inspiring as he was. I love the quote he said to me: “I am unapologetic for being driven.”

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

To relax a bit more.

What food sums up happiness?

Chocolate. I’m a dark chocolate person now, but I love any type of chocolate as long as it hasn’t got all that liqueur and coffee stuff in. If you have a box of Quality Street I’m all about the toffee, fudge and chocolate.

What have you never understood?

Why people like lamb. I can’t stand it.

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

That they’ve found a cure for cancer.

Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

Yes, I’m scared of dying, I don’t want to die. I hate death.

Quinoa or Quavers?

Quinoa all the way. 

Dame Kelly Holmes will be joining us at Stylist Live Manchester at the Trafford Centre on 8 September. For more information visit