Campbell - modest in life but displays on the track

Campbell - modest in life but displays on the track

Sunday 19 September 2004

Monaco - Veronica Campbell readily admits that she’s a shy, somewhat introverted person. But there’s nothing introverted about the performances the 22-year-old Jamaican displays on the track.

“It was a good race,” she said after her season-capping 10.91 victory here in the 100, a late-season performance that knocked 2/100s from the personal best that propelled her to Olympic bronze in the short dash, just four days before her triumph in the 200. “It’s a good feeling to come to the end of the season and PR.”

The “good feeling” was all but a certainty midway through the race, when she passed fast-starting Lauryn Williams, the young American who beat her to the line in Athens. In the end here, it wasn’t much of a contest.

“I felt good and I think I had a good start,” Campbell said, and I just executed. I knew I was in the lead about fifth metres to go and I didn’t really feel anybody." That may be because the nearest challenger, compatriot Aleen Bailey, finished more than 2/10s behind. Campbell admitted that with victory assured, she eased up as she approached the line, a spell of late race relaxation that may have cost her a sub-10.9 performance.

“[I eased up] a little,” she said. “Maybe it did [cost her a high 10.8 clocking], but I don’t care. I’m just happy.”

Yesterday’s 200, which she won in 22.64 while narrowly defeating Athens bronze medallist Debbie Ferguson, gave little indication of the performance Campbell would produce in the 100. That, she said, was just a matter of beating jet lag.

“It was tiring because I didn’t feel as strong as I did at the Olympics,” she said. “And I think it was because I came in Thursday morning and the jet lag made me tired yesterday, but I was happy.”

She arrived in Monaco directly from Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she’s attempting to prepare herself to get back in the ‘school groove’ at the University of Arkansas where she studies marketing management.

Barely into her twenties, Campbell already has four Olympic medals in a collection that is expected to grow in Beijing. Besides her win in the 200 in Athens along with bronze in the 100, she anchored the victorious classily-clad 400 metre relay quartet last month, four years after striking silver as part of the Sydney 4x100 metre relay squad. Even before her performance here, she was short-listed as a nominee for Athlete of the Year honours in this, only the first international season of her career.

“It is a very good feeling,” she said of the title ‘Olympic medallist’, “and it’s really exciting, but I don’t really let it get to my head.” Reinforcing the fact, she said she plans no major celebrations at this evening’s IAF Gala.

“I’m not a person who likes celebrating a lot. I’m just going to go to the gala and look forward to go back tomorrow and start school on Tuesday.” There won’t be any dancing either. “No, I’m not a dancer,” she said, breaking into laughter. “I don’t dance in public. I’m too shy to dance in public.”

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF