Team GB Exclusive: Campbell loving emerging sprint talent

Team GB Exclusive: Campbell loving emerging sprint talent

16 April 2015 / 09:27

Darren Campbell believes British sprinters are standing on the cusp of a golden era - if they keep their focus on the main prize.

Campbell's career was founded on his status as a proven big stage performer, with his Olympic 4x100m gold and 200m silver having pride of place in a collection of 12 major championship medals.

British sprinting has been through some tough times since his retirement in 2006 but a young crop of talented stars is giving Campbell cause for confidence ahead of this year's World Championships in Beijing and next year's Rio Olympics.

World and European indoor champion Richard Kilty has established himself as the world's top 60m performer while James Dasaolu took last year's European 100m title and is now established behind only Linford Christie on the all-time British rankings, with a personal best of 9.91 seconds.

Adam Gemili has made the difficult transition from junior to senior, winning the 200m at last year's European Championships and striking 100m silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, while Chijindu Ujah, Danny Talbot and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey add depth and competition for national selections.

In the women's ranks the picture is just as encouraging, just three years on from failing to qualify a 4x100m team for their home Games in London, with Ashleigh Nelson and Jodie Williams both making the podium at last year's European Championships in Zurich.

"This group of young athletes is showing a maturity beyond their years and it's a very exciting time for British sprinting," Campbell told

"The key is for them to stay healthy, that way they can keep pushing each other on and that level of domestic competition is going to be invaluable when they compete against the best names in the world."

However, Campbell makes it clear that only success on the biggest stage matters. He tells a story about attending a showbiz party shortly after striking double gold at the 1998 European Championships in Budapest. He was approached by boxer Chris Eubank who took him to task for enjoying the high life, reminding him that he still had much to achieve before he could really celebrate.

It's a lesson he hopes the stars of today will also follow.

"Last year's Commonwealth Games and European Championships were great, as a former British sprinter it was such a pleasure to see such positive performances," he added.

"However, they need to step up now, they've not achieved anything yet. They need to be making the finals at the World Championships as a bare minimum and then anything could happen. There can't be any excuses."

Dasaolu has proven he can go fast but it wasn't until his gold last year in Zurich that he made the podium at a major championships.

Now Campbell believes he needs to establish himself as British number one, as he looks to improve on his eighth place at the last World Championships later this summer.

"That gold was massive for James, he proved he could manage his body right and focus on what matters - the major championships," added Campbell.

"His whole focus last year was that medal and he delivered. He's got a template for success now, he's done it but he just needs to move up a level now."

Campbell also believes Kilty will benefit from joining 1992 Olympic champion Linford Christie's training group as he seeks to turn indoor form into outdoor success, a label that Campbell's Olympic gold medal winning team-mate in Athens, Jason Gardener, always battled to shed.

"Linford should enable him to get that last 40 metres right, he needs to start putting a whole race together," added Campbell.

"But this sport is all about confidence and Richard has got the self-belief that he belongs at the top table now.

"People talk about sub ten seconds but I never ran sub-ten and I still was a European champion and won a world bronze medal over 100m.

"It's too easy to focus on times but the important thing is winning and Richard knows how that feels."

By James Toney, Sportsbeat

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