Mon | Sep 23, 2019

This isn’t the end! - Kemoy Campbell promises return to track and field in other capacity

Published:Friday | September 6, 2019 | 12:25 AMRachid Parchment/Assistant Sports Editor
Campbell
Campbell

Kemoy Campbell, the national record holder over the 3000m, 5000m, and 10000m distances, says that although he has retired from track and field, he still has something to give to the sport in another capacity.

Campbell announced his retirement on Instagram yesterday, almost seven months to the day he collapsed at the 1000m mark while performing pacing duties in the men’s 3000m race at the Melrose Games in New York on February 9.

“It’s time I play another role in this sport,” Campbell said in his post. “I was told [yesterday] that I shouldn’t compete again or this incident will happen again, but that will not stop me from supporting and helping this sport and my team anyway I can. So it’s farewell to competing.”

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Dr Warren Blake, while praising Campbell for the legacy he has left in local distance running, said he expected his retirement, however, he, too, believes that the 28-year-old has more to give to the sport in another capacity.

“I can well understand his decision because he would have to consider his health,” Blake told The Gleaner. “I’m not altogether surprised. It’s a bit unfortunate for us because he was one of our budding up-and-coming distance runners. It will be hard to replace him, but I fully understand and respect his decision. But there are other ways to contribute to track and field, and we’ll be trying to engage Kemoy to see how best he can continue to contribute towards the sport. You don’t have to be an athlete to contribute significantly to track and field.

“It’s part of the JAAA’s thrust to broaden the scope of track and field and that we’re not just seen as a sprinting nation, but as a well-rounded track power. Kemoy has fitted into that perspective quite well. He has held up the male distance running.”

WARRIOR SPIRIT

Sports medicine specialist Dr Paul Wright has also praised Campbell for what he describes as “an excellent decision”.

“I want to commend Kemoy for his attempts at trying to get back [into competition],” Wright said. “The warrior spirit in him always wanted to come back, but the reality is with what happened to him while he was running that race months ago, and the subsequent cardiac arrest and resuscitation, and the implantation of a pacemaker, made him performing at a high level extremely dangerous and risky.

“I want to congratulate Kemoy for listening to his medical team and for accepting the fact that he can now relax, remind himself of what he has done for us, in Jamaica, and for himself in the past, and wish him all the best in the future.”

Wright says he hopes younger athletes, whatever their sport, take heed of what happened to Campbell as a reminder of the importance of heart-screening tests.

“This is, indeed, an alarm bell for other athletes, especially the younger ones who are performing not only at a high level, but at school, at their house level, and the inter-form level,” he said. “You need to have cardiac exams to determine if you are at risk. We can determine if you are at risk and initiate action that minimises the risk while you continue your athletic endeavour.”

Campbell became the first male Jamaican distance runner to compete in a final at the IAAF World Championships in London on August 12, 2017. He finished 10th with a time of 13:39.74. He has also won four national championships.

rachid.parchment@gleanerjm.com