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Tough times ahead for Veronica Campbell in Osaka sprints

23 August 2007

By Gary Smith

Jamaica’s Olympic 200-metres champion Veronica Campbell will be looking to better her performance from Helsinki, two-years-ago when the 11th IAAF World Championships starts in Osaka, Japan on the weekend.

At the previous championships in 2005, Campbell won a silver medal in the 100m dash behind American Lauryn Williams in 10.95, before failing to win a medal in the 200m – finishing fourth behind yet another American, Allyson Felix, after entering the event as the favourite.

This season the Jamaican sprinter has been in good form in both sprint events and looks certain to win at least two medals at the championships.

In fact, three of the fastest times accomplished this season belong to the Jamaican sprint double champion and despite the pressure being on her to win the 200m, rather than the 100m, Campbell believes she too can match up in both events.

“I’m capable of producing excellent times in both events. I don’t have a preference for either,” Campbell, the most decorated female athlete at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, said in the build up to the championships earlier this season.

“My aim is to maximise my potential in both sprints, so I treat them as two separate events and prepare for them as such.”

This summer has been a huge turn around for Campbell, who was out for most of last season with a quad injury. The women’s 100m will see her battling hard with American arch rival Torri Edwards (10.90) and French star Christine Arron, who has been running well lately.

The half-lap will not be any easier, as it will feature defending champion and world leader Felix (22.18) and Jamaican-born American World Athlete of the Year, Sanya Richards, who is expected to run very fast after missing a spot on the open 400m team.

With this in mind, Campbell said her main goal in Osaka, will not be focusing towards a particular time, but the target is to get to finishing line first.

“[For] Osaka, my ultimate goal is getting to the finish line first and then the time will speak for itself,” she said.

Should Campbell become successful in winning a gold medal in the 100m, she would become the first Jamaican and indeed, the very first Caribbean woman to win a gold medal in the event – a feat not even the great Merlene Ottey accomplished during her illustrious career for Jamaica.

Meanwhile, without the services of 2006 no.1 female sprinter Sherone Simpson, because of a hip injury sustained earlier this year, Campbell is now seen as the athlete to set the tone and lead the women’s team towards a possible gold medal in the 4?100 sprint relay.

The Americans, some say will start favourites, but a major section of the media believe with talents such as Commonwealth Games champion Sheri-Ann Brooks, Kerron Stewart, Simone Facey and Aleen Bailey, the Caribbean group could race to line first and win their second gold medal in the event in the history of the championships.

The first and only time Jamaica won a gold medal in the event was back in 1991, when Ottey anchored them home. The Bahamians are the only other Caribbean side to win gold at the world championships and they did so in 1999.

“I’m confident that we’ll be able to field a very good team capable of excellent performances,” Campbell said.

“I have confidence in the girls that placed at the Trials and hope they too are confident in me.”

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