Andy Holmes took up rowing at the age of twelve and, coached by Olympic medalist Jim Clark soon showed a talent for the sport. After leaving school Holmes joined the Leander club and won his first Henley Regatta title, the Thames Challenge Club for club eights, in 1978. Elevated to the national squad in early 1981 Holmes was part of the coxed four that led the 1981 World Championship final for most of the race before fading out of the medal positions. After spending 1982-83 as part of the national eight he switched to the coxless four for the 1984 season. The crew of Holmes, Steven Redgrave, Richard Budgett and Martin Cross, coxed by Adrian Ellison, won the Olympic title in Los Angeles to become the first British Olympic rowing champions in 36 years and to herald an upsurge in British rowing that has continued for the next quarter century. The gold medal crew quickly broke up and after a quiet 1985 season Holmes and Redgrave decided to form a partnership which thrived on the rivalry between the two men. They met with immediate success and won the world coxed pair title in 1986 then followed this with gold in the coxless pairs and silver in the coxed event in 1987. Holmes and Redgrave attempted the pairs double at the Seoul Olympics and easily won the coxless event. The Italian Abbagnale brothers and the East Germans proved too good in the coxed pairs and, with [Pat Sweeney], they placed third. Holmes also took two gold medals (coxed four and coxless pair) representing England at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.
Following Seoul Holmes walked away from the sport and set up a removals business but, encouraged his daughter’s entry into the sport, he returned after a twenty year break to become director of rowing of two clubs including one based at the future Olympic rowing venue. In October 2010 he was rushed to hospital and diagnosed as suffering from leptospirosis, also called Weil's disease. Although he appeared to be recovering he had suffered liver and kidney damage which was to prove fatal.