Veronica Campbell-Brown is a fascinating athlete. Having first spoken to her in 2004, and knowing her long time manager, Claude Bryan helped in future meetings in the UK and at Olympic and World Championships. VCB is a tough athlete and did not give an inch or centimeter, to anyone. I always enjoyed the battles between VCB and Allyson Felix, which began in 2003.
In this piece, Stuart Weir writes of her interest in Tokyo 2020, but, the challenge now of 2021, with a growing child, and the complications of training in the time of the coronavirus.
Five Olympics are not enough
Veronica Campbell-Brown has medalled at the last 5 Olympics but is not satisfied. After a mother break she is back in training and recently told Track Alerts: “At this stage in my life and my career, running in the Olympic Games one more time would be extra special. It would be like icing on the cake if I’m able to run in my sixth Olympic Games.” She added that it would be a special experience “because I feel like I don’t have anything else to prove.” She will be 38 in May but she still believes she can.
It all started in Sydney 2000, when aged 18 she ran in the Jamaican 4 by 100 relay team, coming away with a silver medal. She recalls: “2000 was when I realised that I was capable of running among the best in the world, when I ran the 4 by 100 relay and we got a medal. I felt that I handled myself well. So that was the first indication that I could run with the more mature, with the more experienced athletes and still do well”.
In Athens, 4 years later she had higher expectations after being selected for the 100m and 200m as well as the relay. She took bronze in the 100 but was disappointed: “I was going for a better colour of medal in the 100m but I am grateful for a bronze. Winning the gold in the 200m was my childhood dream because I always dreamt of winning an Olympic gold medal and when it happened in 2004 it was so overwhelming. The 4 by 100 team also won so it was a great experience. That was fun and I felt great”.
Having proved herself in 2004, she went to Beijing in 2008 as defending champion: “2008 was great. It was a really good feeling to defend my title. It was challenging. There was a little bit of pressure because everyone was looking to see if I could do it. I believed I could do it and in my ability and my training. I ran a very good race and ended up getting my second gold medal in the 200m”. Campbell-Brown did not made her national 100m team for Beijing where Jamaica swept the medals through Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart. In the relay Veronica and her team were fastest qualifiers, but in the final, failed to get the baton round.
In London 2012, she was third in the 100m and fourth in the 200m. In the relay, Jamaica set a national record for silver after USA broke the world record. Her assessment is: “I had some challenges in 2012 and we had to alter my training, quite close to the Games. So I didn’t do a lot of the things I was supposed because of some issues that were going on with me but I did well. I was looking to medal in the 200 but things don’t always happen the way we perceive them but at the end of the day I was pleased that I medalled in the 100 metres and the relay”.
In 2016 in Rio Veronica was eliminated in the heats of the 200 but took silver in the relay, saying of her fifth Olympics: “I did not achieve everything I wanted but at the end of the day I was grateful for the opportunity to be there, to be at my fifth Olympics. It was a blessing”.
Finally, when I asked her for the secret of her longevity, she replied: “I would say that a secret is knowing who I am and believing in my ability. I do understand and recognise that God has gifted me the ability to sprint. And as long as I remember that and work hard the mind is the limit. People may think that you cannot but if you believe that you can, that is the only thing that is important”.
The postponement of the Olympics may scupper the plan. She said, on hearing of the postponement of the Games: “I am currently training, but I’m a bit unsure at this time if I will move forwards to a 2021 Olympic Games date. My last competitive race was in June of 2018 and we welcomed our baby girl in February of 2019, so as you can imagine, there is a great degree of rust having not competed in such a long time. The pandemic that we are all facing make things a bit more challenging as training is somewhat restricted and our primary focus is (or should be) on exercising caution towards this scourge rather than Games preparation. I will take some time to reflect and make a decision about Tokyo 2021 in the future”