Olympic bronze medalist Alan Campbell has announced he will continue on to the Rio Games in 2016.
It’s 14 weeks since the Coleraine rower battled his way to a thrilling third place in the single sculls final at Eton Dorney and then captured the hearts of millions as the tears flowed on the podium.
Afterwards he explained that it was the emotion of seeing his wife Juliet and parents Jenny and William in the stands that meant so much and it’s with their support and blessing that he’s made the decision to pursue gold in four years time.
“I think whether or not they were prepared for me to be as selfish as I have been played a major part in the decision, especially Juliet in terms of the huge amount of sacrifice and commitment on her behalf.
“They are the most important people to me and I wanted to make sure this was something they could get behind again because no athlete can really do it on their own and I realized more than ever that I needed their support this year and it did make a massive difference in London and I needed them to be on board,” explained Campbell.
“It was talking about whether they could deal with me being a prima donna, my massive ego and whether they could keep pepping me up all the time and deal with my mood swings and everything else because there is a huge mental side to sport as well and it can take its toll, not only on me but those around me.”
Since London 2012 Campbell has shared his experiences and medal with everyone he’s met from schoolchildren in Coleraine to sponsors in London and he’s been enjoying a rest, away from the tortuous training regime he put himself through in order to win an Olympic medal.
After three Olympics it would have been easy to move away from the sport but recently Campbell has been back in a boat, training by himself at his club – Tideway Scullers – in London.
It’s still early stages in the four-year cycle and there are many big decisions ahead and Campbell is keen to stress that he’s enjoying a rest and although he will take part in the GB winter assessment trials later this month he won’t be anywhere close to being fully fit.
The world cup season starts earlier in March with a regatta in Australia before a gap to June when the second event takes place at Eton Dorney and that is a more likely target for Campbell who would then build up to the world championships in Korea at the end of August.
His decision means he joins fellow Olympic medalists Richard and Peter Chambers in declaring their intentions to continue on to Brazil, a huge boost for rowing and Northern Ireland sport in general.
Meanwhile, Campbell is Wingfield Champion once again as he triumphed in the 172nd race on a choppy Tideway last week.
Representing Tideway Scullers, Campbell found himself the sole remaining sculler in the men’s race when Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale and defending Wingfield champion Adam Freeman-Pask were forced to pull out because of sickness.
Campbell, 29, completed a lonely race in 24 minutes, to add a fourth Wingfield title to his wins in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
Back in the warmth of the Tideway Scullers’ boathouse, he said: “This is the championship of Britain and I’m very proud of that. I represented Britain as the top Olympic sculler this summer and I was very proud to be on the podium.
“When you look at some of the champions who have won the Wingfields – Jack Beresford , Ken Dwan – it’s quite an honour to be amongst them.”
Disappointed to be the only sculler in the men’s race, he added: “I know what’s it like - last year I suffered from an injury and it’s not a race you can take lightly. Physically it’s very tough.
“Maybe we can get some more entries next year. The competition is high – but we do have plenty of people who are good enough.”