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'We're on track for the Olympics'

PUBLISHED: 15:39 04 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:50 23 August 2010

Three-time Olympic medal winner Dame Kelly Holmes hailed British athletes recent medal haul at the European championships and says it bodes well for London 2012. UK athletes took 19 medals, second only to Russia s 26, when the European Athletics Champion

Three-time Olympic medal winner Dame Kelly Holmes hailed British athletes' recent medal haul at the European championships and says it bodes well for London 2012.

UK athletes took 19 medals, second only to Russia's 26, when the European Athletics Championships ended on Sunday and with attention quickly turning to the next Olympics the 40-year-old was quick to highlight north Kent as "a big part of the Games".

The retired middle distance runner, from Kent, said: "It has been a difficult summer for British sport, so to come away with that amount of medals is fantastic. Athletics as a sport hasn't been doing too well over the last few years, but we're fighting back again.

"More than anything it gives athletes the thought that they can win and perform well. That's the big battle, really, because these games are so daunting, it's important to have the right attitude as much as anything."

Dame Kelly, who caught the world's attention when she turned in a double gold medal-winning performance at the Athens Olympics in 2004, adding to her bronze at 2000's Sydney Olympics, is now London Mayor Boris Johnson's 2012 sport's advisor.

She said: "North Kent is definitely a big part of the Games. We're the closest county, outside London, to the Games, we have training grounds here and people will be travelling through here on the Javelin train, so the buzz very much spreads into North Kent.

"It is a massive boost for the area. And it's so important to have inspiring people you can look up to. You have to see achievement to believe it's possible."

The 20th year of the championships saw events including discus, javelin, pole vault, hurdles, long jump and running.

British achievements include Mo Farah and Chris Thompson scooping gold and silver in the men's 10,000 metre, Mark Lewis-Frances winning silver in the 100 metre, and team mate Dwain Chambers finishing in fifth place.

Alan Cowan, who runs with Istead and Ifield Harriers Running Club, hopes the medal tally which is the most since the competition was launched 76 years ago will inspire them for London 2012.

He said: "I'm very pleased. It augers well for the 2012 Olympics," he said. "The TV coverage before and during the 2012 Olympics will no doubt increase interest in athletics and indeed other sports.

"Some television viewers and a few spectators who manage to get tickets may be encouraged to take up sport and hopefully a few of these will want to take up running.

"This may lead to some new club members.

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