The Olympics is a time for nations to come together and compete against each other in a spirit of sportsmanship. But what happens when the athletes themselves are from rival countries?
The olympian escapes is a story from the Olympics. It talks about how sprinting was the only way that this Olympian could escape her gang life.
Campbell (right) earned Olympic silver in the 200m in 2000 and gold in the 4x100m relay in 2004.
Darren Campbell was the face of British sprinting for a generation of fans.
His silver in the 200m in the 2000 Olympics and gold in the 4x100m four years later won him worldwide acclaim and admiration.
Yet, for years, the source of his inner motivation remained unknown to the general world.
This is the story of how Campbell became a brilliant teenage sprinter while also living a double life as a gang member; how a lucky break thwarted a planned bar robbery, how he escaped a city-centre knife fight, and why he ultimately left Manchester after the death of a family friend.
Campbell, now 47, seldom talked about his upbringing on the Racecourse estate in Sale, a council estate on the fringes of south Manchester, throughout his career.
As he prepares to lead Team GB’s current generation of young British athletes through the Tokyo Olympics, he has chosen to put it all out there – “the good, the terrible, and the ugly” – in the hopes of inspiring others.
Campbell and his younger sister Sophia were reared in a two-bedroom apartment in Sale’s Racecourse estate by their mother, Marva.
During the age of 13, he saw his father for the first time at a sports awards ceremony. That’s when he chose his mother’s surname, Campbell, over his paternal surname, Grant.
“I told my mother that one day I’m going to be famous, and I don’t want my father to get all the credit,” Campbell explains. “If he attempts to claim credit for it, he’ll have to explain why we have different names to the rest of the globe.”
Campbell, who was born in 1973, had previously promised everyone who would listen that he would one day participate in the Olympics. Carl Lewis’ exploits in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, when the American sprinter won gold in the 100m, 200m, long jump, and 4x100m relay, had encouraged him.
By that time, the developing young athlete had been a member of Sale Harriers for four years, having joined after his mother was knocked out by his first school sports day.
Campbell’s mother was a continuous source of inspiration and support for him. Campbell described her as “the most dreaded on the estate,” but since she frequently worked two or three jobs, he was able to spend time with his expanded circle of pals, with whom danger was never far away.
“It started out as a fraternity, a gang,” he explains. “Unfortunately, it became into a gang as time went on.” Because that’s how you ended here, it’s a ‘us versus the world’ situation.
“I wouldn’t say we were terrible kids because we weren’t,” says the narrator. However, as we grew older, it was easy to be sucked into the many activities on the estate. You become a product of the environment in which you grew up. Gangs, gun violence, knife crime, and drug trafficking are all visible.
“There was a lot of brawling going on. That means you’ll have to learn to defend yourself as well as your allies. We formed a gang as a result of this – defending each other. Then things took a turn for the worst.”
Campbell (right) poses with his pals Marlon (left) and Tommy (right) (centre). They’ve kept in contact and are still close.
Campbell’s sports were flourishing as his life took a dark turn.
Sale Harriers’ young teams achieved success, which was followed by school honors at the regional and eventually national levels. Campbell’s Olympic goal looked a long way away when he was 16 years old. He decided to take part in a bar heist since his immediate worry was how to put some money in his pocket.
“As a group, we’d got down and discussed how we might get some fast cash,” he adds.
“Someone came up with the notion of going to a bar off the estate after closing time and stealing the night’s takings.” It seemed like a ridiculous idea to me, and as I rode my bike there, I sort of looked up to the skies and said, “Show me a sign.”
“My bike promptly developed a puncture.” It meant that, since I was supposed to go back with the money because I was the quickest, we felt we couldn’t go through with it.
“I’ve always thought of it as a’sliding doors’ moment, and I’ve always considered myself lucky that it didn’t happen.” My life would have been very different if I hadn’t made that decision. It would have been a lot simpler to do it the second, third, and fourth time if I had overcome my fear of doing it the first time.
“From my perspective, it would have simply been a spiral.”
Campbell (center) after winning the British Rail Sprinter Youth 100m championship in 1989, the year the planned bar robbery took place.
Campbell, on the other hand, was still looking for a way out at the moment.
Members of his inner circle began to establish alliances with Moss Side’s more serious gangs, attracting unwelcome attention and raising the danger of bloodshed.
He describes it as “living in two distinct universes.” “I had this athletic world, and then I had this other world with my pals, with folks I’d known since I was a kid.” They shielded me, and I shielded them.
“I felt like I had a lot more to lose, yet I was completely unaware of the dangers I was taking with my future. I definitely wasn’t looking at my life with the expectation of representing my nation in two years.”
Sport, like his group, was getting more serious.
He won gold in the 100m and 200m at the European Junior Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece, in the summer of 1991, when he was 17 years old. He almost avoided being stabbed during a fight at Manchester’s Arndale Centre upon his homecoming.
“In the stores, a group of men noticed me and my buddy,” he adds. “After one of their buddies was beaten up, they decided to go after us.”
“A knife was produced. The knife-wielding individual attempted to stab me. Because I was able to remove my outerwear, the knife cut my coat.
“Fortunately, we were able to flee. Being a member of a gang and drawing those battle lines meant you might wind yourself in a position where you may lose your life at any time.”
If the knife battle served as a stark reminder of Campbell’s precarious position, the murder of his mother’s godson and fellow gang member ‘T’, who was killed in the course of another dispute, was a crushing blow.
“T was a member of the Moss Side gang,” Campbell explains.
“He didn’t reside on the estate where I grew up,” says the narrator. He was up to various things and ended up in a position where he was involved in an argument with another gang, and they essentially hired someone to kill him. That is the truth of the situation. We don’t know who murdered him to this day.
“It was a challenge.” It made me realize how precious life is and how fast someone may be snatched away. It put me in a position where I had to decide whether or not to remain in Manchester since my mother had heard I was on a kill list.
“I knew I had to leave Manchester when she asked me to.”
The offers started pouring in. Campbell was in high demand after winning silver in the 100m and 200m, as well as gold in the 4x100m relay, at the 1992 World Junior Championships in Seoul, South Korea. He ultimately chose to train in Newport, South Wales, with Colin Jackson’s coach, Malcolm Arnold.
As he transitioned from a junior track standout to a full-time athlete, Campbell originally stayed with Arnold’s family. But, although he remembers those days fondly with a mentor he refers to as “the greatest coach in the world,” the young Mancunian did not take to a career in sports right away.
Disillusioned by the effect he believed drugs made at the highest level of the sport, he chose to retire and pursue a career in football instead.
Plymouth’s Spells Non-league and Argyle Weymouth was next, and it didn’t take long for him to realize that if he was going to make it in any discipline, it would be athletics.
Campbell, together with Linford Christie, Colin Jackson, Jamie Baulch, and Paul Gray, returned to full-time training in south Wales in 1995. The following year, he finished fourth in the 100m at the British Championships and was selected for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta as part of the 4x100m relay squad.
Campbell did not have a fairytale start to the Games as he lost the baton in the relay semi-finals, but his performances gradually improved. In 1997, she won silver in the 100m at the British Championships and bronze in the relay at the World Championships.
In 1998, he made his major break by winning national and European championships in the 100m, as well as relay gold at the European and Commonwealth Games.
Campbell’s life has finally taken a turn for the better. That same year, he met his wife Clair, with whom he has three children, and they have lived in Newport ever since.
But he’s never forgotten his origins, keeping in touch with boyhood pals and former gang members Lynx and Marlon throughout his life. And he thinks that the fighting characteristics he cultivated in his childhood were crucial in his subsequent success on the senior international arena.
Campbell finished sixth in the 100m Olympic final in Sydney in 2000, fulfilling a longtime ambition. At those Games, he won silver in the 200m and gold in the 4x100m relay four years later in Athens.
He also earned two bronze and one silver medals at the World Championships, three gold and one silver at the European Championships, and two gold and one bronze at the Commonwealth Games by the time he retired in 2006.
It’s impossible for any athlete to match the thrill of winning Olympic gold. Campbell felt a surge of energy at the moment.
“I wasn’t in the huddle celebrating with the rest of the squad when we won Olympic gold because I was actually in rivers of tears,” Campbell recalls.
“It felt as if I was experiencing flashbacks of my whole life, the good, terrible, and ugly.”
“It all came rushing back, coupled with an awareness for how lucky I was to have made it this far and accomplished my goals.”
“Those tears were for more than simply myself.” They (his former pals) have always been there for me. Their success is my prosperity. That’s how I see it, and that’s why I’m glad they went through life in the same manner I did.
“They may not have achieved the same level of success as me as an athlete, but I consider them to be successful as individuals because I know how tough their beginnings were.”
“I realize we’ve been lucky to have made it thus far and still be alive.”
It’s for this reason that Campbell chose to write his autobiography, Track Record.
“I believe it is essential not to hide from my past, but to demonstrate that anything is possible in life.”
“It’s not where you start in life that matters; it’s where you end.”
Women’s 100m final, the women’s 100m final is a race that takes place at the Olympic Games. In this race, women sprint from the starting line to the finish line as fast as they can. The winner of this race is determined by who crosses the finish line first.
- olympics women’s 100m
- golf on radio 5 live
- women’s 100m tokyo olympics
- secrets of an isis smartphone
- women’s 100m favourite