Sprinter Darren Campbell formed part of arguably the most successful spiriting team in British athletic history and speaking to Sportsvibe at the Sky Sports Living for Sport Awards, where he is now a ambassador with Jessica Ennis, he explains what it takes to reach the top.
Campbell was a man for the big occasion and after winning a silver medal in the 200m during the 2004 Sydney Olympics he went on to win gold in the 4x100m relay and admitted he thrived on the big stage and winning medals obsessed him.
‘First and foremost you have to decide what’s important to you,” he said. “And for me it was always about winning medals.
“I found it harder to reach my highest levels on the circuit and then produce my best at Championships. I always wanted to produce my best when it really mattered.”
The 39 year old also said representing his country was a huge motivation, “I loved representing Great Britain. It that inspired me and helped me handle the pressure and expectation.”
Having the countries weight on his shoulder was not something that he appeared to struggle with and says that is all down to the work his did away from the track.
“Nerves are the hardest thing to combat and get use to, you have to know you have done all the hard work before the games.
“If you can say there is no more you can do going into an event then you are able to just go out and enjoy your performance because you can trust the work you have done.
“I always knew what shape I was in going into a tournament, others could always doubt me but that’s just your opinion."
Now an ambassador for Sky Sports Living for Sport, Campbell is keen to ensure a legacy is built after the London Olympics, but doesn’t anticipate an immediate impact.
“I think sport always struggles after a home Olympics because so much funding, support and sponsorship goes into it beforehand.
He continued, “When people ask me about legacy I always say lets wait and see, because it’s a nice word to tag on to and say we will inspire and generation and point towards pictures, but its schemes like Living for Sport that help create a legacy.”
He pointed out to the work that the athlete mentors are doing for project as the main reason for its success, which is now in one in every three schools around the UK.
“The athlete mentors do an incredible job. It’s nice to be able to show them their medals, but really, forget the medal, its all about talking to them about the work that went into winning it so kids at school can find their own goals and work hard towards them.”
Campbell is about to see one of his teams reach their goal as Manchester United edge closer towards lifting the Premier League title and he hopes they can complete the double after Chelsea forced an FA Cup replay at Old Trafford.
“Against Chelsea we were mentally tired, a lot has been said but unless your in elite sport its hard to understand mental fatigue.
He touched on his own experience to draw a comparison, “Sydney 2000 I won Olympic silver and I was so drained because I didn’t win gold and it’s because of the emotional journey I’d been on, it is the same for United.
“One decision makes it harder to get over, it would have been easier if every one hadn’t agreed with Sir Alex over the decision,” he says about the Nani red card against Real Madrid.
“We will be alright thought, I’m not to worried in the league and when you’ve got Sir Alex in charge you’ll be alright, he’s been through most things.”