Campbell is up for his date with destiny

Presseye Northern Ireland - 25th July 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye''London 2012 Olympic Games''Coleraine's Great Britain rower Alan Campbell during a training session for the Single Sculls at the Olympic venue Eton Dorney where he will compete in the London 2012 Olympics.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 25th July 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye''London 2012 Olympic Games''Coleraine's Great Britain rower Alan Campbell during a training session for the Single Sculls at the Olympic venue Eton Dorney where he will compete in the London 2012 Olympics.
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It’s the day of destiny for Alan Campbell.

The statistics are stacked against the Coleraine single sculler.

No Great Britain athlete has won the event since Jack Beresford on the River Seine at the 1924 Games in Paris; in fact there hasn’t been any sort of medal since 1928.

It’s also the 40th anniversary since Dame Mary Peters won the pentathlon gold in Munich, the last athlete from Northern Ireland to win an Olympic title in an individual event and I’m sure no-one would want that little record to disappear from the record books more than Dame Mary.

Campbell has looked good this week winning his heat and quarter-final and coming second in his semi-final without exerting himself too much.

The two biggest obstacles to the top step on the podium are Mahe Drysdale from New Zealand and Czech sculler Ondrej Synek.

All nine medals available in the three world championships since Beijing four years ago have been shared among the three men.

Campbell has a silver medal and two bronzes and he has yet to beat the other two on the biggest stage.

But it only has to happen once.

The mystery remains as to how Campbell might change his game plan. All too often the pattern has been the same with Campbell blasting off the start setting the pace for Drysdale and Synek who overhaul him in the middle part of the race and leave with behind with 500m to go.

As yet Campbell hasn’t had to show this week what he may have left in the tank.

He will have to make a decision at some stage as to whether he risks everything for gold and perhaps end up with nothing or simply scull for the podium.

These great athletes race each other so often there are likely to be few surprises and rather like yesterday’s lightweight four final it will come down to whoever has the strongest finish.

“It’s just being able to react to their game plan, react within your own plan to what they’re doing,” he said.

“There is a lot to play for and there is a game of tactics going on there and physically we’ll all to step it up. That’s what I’ve done all week and I did it again in the semi-final.”

Campbell has the distinction of being a three-time Olympian.

He was young and raw and in not a very good quadruple scull in Athens and illness robbed him of being fully fit in Beijing.

He’s looked confident and happy all week and he’s fit.

Now can he deliver on the biggest stage?