2004 Olympics: Eye-popping win, captured with a little shout from a friend

July 3, 2012 | By Stu Forster | Olympics, Sport

It was the finish of the Women’s 800 metres final at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Kelly Holmes was having a great season and had been unlucky in previous championships due to injury, so this was her chance.

Maria Mutola (second left) was reigning Olympic and World Champion and probably the favourite for the race. When it was my turn for the head-on position, I decided to use a 300mm lens, instead of a 400, which the other agencies were using in that position.

I just had a feeling that Holmes could get a medal but, due to the close nature of the event, a blanket finish sometimes occurs. Medallists can pop up on the outside in lanes 2,3 and even 4 – so by using a shorter lens I was covering my backside in case this happened. The finish was indeed close, and Holmes didn’t react until some yards after the finishing line.

The best story regarding the finish, involves Getty Images photographer Michael Steele, who was on the infield at the time and standing feet away from her when she crossed the line. “You’ve won, Kelly!” he shouted out as he fired off his remote cameras.

Up until that point, due to the blanket finish, she didn’t realise she had won, but Steele was the first to confirm the glad tidings and thus, eye-popping Kelly Holmes celebration faces commenced. Holmes then went onto win the 1,500 metres at a canter several days later. Happy days.


Kelly Holmes of Great Britain celebrates as she crosses the finish line and wins gold in the women's 800 metre final on August 23, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in the Sports Complex in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)


Editor’s note: After leaving the renowned Gwent College of Documentary Photography in Newport, Stu Forster started his career in 1992 as assistant to Clive Brunskill at The Bob Thomas Sports Agency in Northampton. Four years later there followed a stint at the Tottenham based football agency Action Images, before he joined Allsport in the spring of 1996.

Stu has covered summer and winter Olympics, European and World football championships, Rugby Union and League world cups, World and European Athletics championships, several England winter cricket tours and tennis grand slam events as well as various commercial and editorial jobs.

London 2012 will be Stu’s fifth summer Olympic Games.

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