Chris Holmes is Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer with a tally of 9 golds, 5 silvers and 1 bronze. A lifelong campaigner for equality and inclusion, Chris was inducted into the IPC Hall of Fame in 2012, and was appointed to the House of Lords in 2013 as Lord Holmes of Richmond.

An interview with Chris Holmes

Interviewer Paul Dickinson

Chris Holmes swam at four Paralympics, starting at Seoul in 1988 through to Sydney in 2000. In 1992 at Barcelona he pulled off the extraordinary feat of winning six golds; he describes that achievement:

Two points I absolutely remember, touching those Omega time pads, and knowing that I’d won, was such a brilliant feeling

And your first Paralympic Games was 1988, seems a long time ago now. What are your memories of that first Paralympic experience?

My first Paralympic experience in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988 was just sensational. I went there, I was 16 years old. I got my first suit, I thought that was pretty cool. We were all in the GB gear, and going to somewhere so different to Great Britain, it was phenomenal. To be in that village with so many other different nations. To dine with the world in that dining hall in the centre of the village, it was absolutely phenomenal. The facilities were awesome, they put on such a great games. I was lucky enough to come away with two silvers and a bronze medal. At that stage, I didn’t think any Paralympic Games could top what was put on in Seoul.

But your first gold medal was still, if you like, something that you could look forward to in the future, and it took four years to reach that stage. How did your life change once you got that first gold medal?

When I won my first gold medal, it was an absolutely extraordinary experience. I’d trained hard for Barcelona. I’d been training with the Olympic swimmers at the City of Birmingham, under coach Barry Prime. We’d done brilliant training, we were in great shape. I felt confident but you never know what’s going to happen in the race. First race, 200m individual medley. It’s a hard race. Four lengths of the Olympic pool, one of each of the strokes, it’s a sprint and it hurts. Two points I absolutely remember: touching those Omega time pads and knowing that I’d won was just such a brilliant feeling. But even more significantly, about half an hour later, standing on that rostrum, having the gold medal put around your neck, knowing that the Union Jack is flying, and having 10,000 people stand to sing the Great British national anthem – just such an honour to have had that experience.

Download a pdf of Chris's full interview here