Holmes maintains England can challenge

Double Olympic champion athlete Kelly Holmes insists her protege Hannah England can follow in her footsteps and defy an untimely injury to perform well at the London Games.

The 25-year-old suffered a spiked Achilles in Holland, forcing a long recovery process which included five days in hospital and being banned from standing for more than three minutes at a time for two weeks.

"What I am telling her at the moment is that she still has time, that it is not over till it's over," said Holmes, who won gold in the 800 and 1,500m in Athens in 2004.

"Two occasions before the Olympic Games things have gone horribly wrong for me, so I can relate to Hannah. In 1996 I found out I had a stress fracture in Tallahassee two weeks before Atlanta, still ran it and came fourth. But on that occasion I was fit, had done the training and believed I could do it.

"The one that is the most comparable is Sydney in 2000 when I tore my calf in January and had only six weeks track work that year and I came back with a bronze medal and might have had gold if I hadn't looked up at the screen and thought 'Oh my God I'm in front'.

"Even though I had not been running I was fit because I'd been doing pool work, in the gym, had belief, was confident that I could be there, comfortable that I had the experience, knew how to race. So as long as I could get some running in I'd be okay. Same as Hannah.

"That is the key and so Friday's race was the first step back for her. You can't simulate racing in training. Racing's what she needs. It's not a worry that she only ran 4:14 because it was the way the race was run, the pace at 800m.

"She may have felt there was nothing left in the last 300m but that is because she hasn't done the speed endurance stuff recently. That will come back because she showed she had it before for that race."