Olympic Dreams Runner Stacey Smith inspired by Dame Kelly Holmes

Stacey Smith
Smith competes in 800m and 1,500m - the same disciplines as Kelly Holmes

At the young age of 16, Stacey Smith, from Chester-le-Street in County Durham, gave up running.

"I'd been doing atheletics for four years, I just took a step back from it, found it a bit too serious and I wanted to spend some time with my friends and socialise," she told BBC Newcastle.

However, when Smith received an uplifting letter from her idol, Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, saying she was a "wasted talent" she quickly changed her mind.

Smith explained: "If Kelly writes you a letter saying you're a 'wasted talent', she knows what she's talking about, so my ears pricked up and I thought she knows her stuff so I better listen to her."

Four years later, she has overcome swine flu, made her debut for the Great Britain senior team and is now hoping to represent Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics next year.

If succesful, Smith will represent Team GB in the 800m and 1,500m races at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Inspired by Dame Kelly Holmes from a young age, Stacey wanted to follow in her footsteps and has been influenced by her dedication.

"She's someone I've looked up to for years and years and I still look up to her now because I just think of how much she went through.

"I was 14, I do remember watching both the 800m and 1,500m. I just remembered thinking 'wow that's amazing' and being very proud to be British and I still watch it back now and again just to give me a bit more inspiration."

Smith was chosen to attend On Camp With Kelly, where she got to meet her idol for the first time.

Stacey remembers: "I wasn't nervous, I just thought 'wow, that's Kelly Holmes'. Once you get chatting to her she doesn't talk down to you she talks to you like a normal person, she's just a lovely woman.

"You'll be chatting to her and then you'll think she's won two Olympic gold medals. She's just a lovely person to talk to and she's very knowledgable. She tells you the truth as well which I appreciate."

Over the next 12 months, aside from London 2012, Stacey is hoping to qualify for the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

"My family are very supportive and they believe that I was put on this planet to do this," she said. "I can't see myself doing anything else and they can't either. They can see how much I love athletics and how passionate I am about it and they really want me to succeed and they're very excited for me."

Stacey Smith is one of BBC Newcastle's three featured athletes as part of 'Olympic Dreams' in the build-up to London 2012.

Find out more about Stacey Smith on BBC Look North on Tuesday 2 August at 18:30 BST.