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24 September 2014
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The Beijing Games on the BBC
Darren Campbell

The 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics on the BBC

BBC Radio team Olympic impressions

Darren Campbell


Darren Campbell is unquestionably one of Britain's most successful and well-known sprinters.


His medal tally includes a European Championship gold in the 100m, an Olympic silver medal in the 200m and, as part of the 4x100m team, an Olympic gold, three European golds and two Commonwealth Games golds.


He was awarded an MBE for his services to the sport in 2006, and later that year announced his retirement from athletics.


One of his biggest commitments since then has been Street Athletics, the concept set up by himself, Linford Christie and Nuff Respect, targeting disengaged young people aged 20 and under, predominantly in underprivileged areas.


Darren first worked with BBC Radio 5 Live in 2006 for a series of athletics debate programmes around the world championships.


"The Olympics represents, for me, the beginning of a dream. When I was 12 years old, I watched Carl Lewis at the Olympics winning his four gold medals and from watching that I just always wanted to go to an Olympic Games.


"I always hoped that I'd be able to get amongst the medals and to have two medals, including an Olympic gold – it's really been about achieving my dreams.


"My favourite memories are definitely of winning my own medals – but also just going to my first Olympics Games in Atlanta.


Just being in the village and being a part of the whole experience – and being young at the time, 'borrowing' the golf buggies that were left lying around that were supposed to be for the VIPs!


"Little memories like that; the Olympic Games is a very special event so being in the Olympic Village and being a part of it all, they're my best memories really.


"I think Beijing will be a totally different Olympics, it will have a different feel.


"I've been to three Olympics as a competitor but this will be my first chance to be there and watch and commentate on it and I think I'll have a different type of nerves!


"Obviously being there and competing, it's very intense, whereas being there on the other side, commentating on it and being able to watch it – I've never really been able to watch the Olympics because I've been too busy preparing! So it'll be good to be on the other side.


"I've been to China a few times and I've seen a few different parts of it – it's a beautiful country. There's definitely a lot of people there! It seems like a country that never sleeps...


"Obviously there are a lot of issues going on there but I know they are very excited about having an Olympic Games there and I know they're going to try and put on a great show.


"I think that's one of the special things about the Olympic Games, each nation tries to put on a better show than the last one.


"It's a difficult one to predict with regard to individuals – I've been really talking up Jessica Ennis and now she's injured, so I don't really want to focus on individuals in case I jinx them!


"But that's what sport's about. You never know what's going to happen, there's too many variables to pin my hopes on one person – they've already been dashed with Jessica and we're not even there yet!


"However, I am really looking forward to watching the Americans in the basketball, and I'm also looking forward to being able to see how other sportspeople prepare and get ready and compete in an Olympic Games.


"I've been a part of the whole track and field world but as a person who loves sport I'm looking forward to watching different sports too.


"With regard to specific events, the 100m will always be the blue riband event at the Olympic Games.


"It's the event that everybody wants to see and having been in a 100m Olympic final I know how special that is, so I will be watching out – especially now with the emergence of Usain Bolt, it will be interesting to see him, Tyson Gay and Asafa Po well .


"Bolt's position is fascinating. He's the fastest in the world this year at 100m but prefers 200m – and it's very difficult to double.


"You're talking about potentially eight races in five or six days so if you've not already done the work to double it would be too difficult.


"And there are too many variables over 100m – if you get the start wrong the race is over. Then you have to pick yourself up for the 200m – you have to be very strong mentally.


"It was the mental side that bothered me rather than the physical. If you lose you have to pick yourself up; if you win, you can't sleep!


"London 2012 is a great opportunity to unearth some superstars. I think anyone who can go to the Olympic Games in London and win a medal – especially a gold – is going to be shot to superstardom.


"I really do see Beijing as a stepping stone to London 2012; the advice I would give to any young person who has the opportunity to compete in Beijing, is don't put yourself under too much pressure.


"Go there and try to get through the rounds; try and make the final, but the real big one will be London 2012, so if you are going to make mistakes, make them in Beijing.


"And to get the opportunity to run in front of your home crowd is amazing.


"I had that with the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, which is where I grew up, which was great.


"I can't really wait for 2012; I think the effect will be felt right across the country.


"It'll be that feelgood factor – all the news will be about the Games, whereas at the moment we've got so many negative stories – all the news about knife crime, gun crime, potential recession, it's a lot of depressing stuff, but come 2012 it will only be positive stuff and we'll have some of the best sports stars in the world on home soil.”








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