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Foster's Fairplay: Campbell steps onto big stage

Published:Monday | August 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM
MVP Track Club head coach, Stephen Francis (right), speaks with his athlete, Semoya Campbell, during the Jamaica team training at the warm-up track adjacent to the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing, China.

Simoya Campbell, that young female half-miler out of an almost unknown programme at Spalding High, is on a collision course with destiny.

At 9:25 p.m. on the Jamaica clock today, the former coach Meghan Wilson-Copeland-prepared two-time sub-two-minute campaigner will face the starters.

It is the first round of the Beijing World Champs women's 800m event. This serves as a crucial encounter with her economic future.

Success here will carve a niche in the annals of an event where Jamaica has never received a medal at this level from her gender.

How much is she alert to the implications for her advance in the event?

Her articulate and well-mannered demeanour surfaced when Foster's Fairplay quizzed her.

It was shortly after her second time under the magic barrier with her silver medal at the World University Games - a repeat performance in time (1:59+) and place as at the National Championships about two weeks prior.

Addressing the Kingston achievement, she explained: "That moment I crossed the line and looked at the electronic clock and saw 1:59.92, jubilation and elation are words that I would use to describe (it)."

How did she actually get there?

"The journey here was not easy. However, the fact that I stayed focused and worked hard, it was really motivating that the result was a positive one."

The University of Technology (UTech) student-athlete had some traumatic experiences at the junior level. The experience would have tested every sinew of her character and inner strength. However, she conquered, to be on the doorsteps of one of the biggest sporting showcases known to man.

"My faith in God and support of my loved ones and even the small pocket of fans that always believed in me allowed me to overcome the numerous obstacles that presented themselves."

She further explained the sacrifices.

"In my final year at high school, I reflected on what I had accomplished so far in all aspects of my life and I wasn't satisfied, so I decided to make some serious changes, some of which caused me to lose a lot of friends.

However, I knew these changes were imminent and vital to achieving my goals, so I stuck to the process and today I am so pleased with my overall development, both on and off the track."


path to glory


The Stephen Francis-coached athlete, like track and field pundits, realised that the Beijing qualifying time stood in her path to glory. This was coupled with the at times frightening two-minute obstacle.

They had to be tackled and overcome to receive that ticket to the World Championships. Her event requires a little more than self-generated speed and endurance to make the cut.

This is no 100m dash - "move with the gun, power the drive phase, acceleration zone, then best of form and maintain to the line."

To achieve in the way required takes some pace-making by an athlete who would be compromising her own chances. They pay well on the professional circuit for this "rabbit".

The determined Campbell needed her predecessor at the event in high school, Natoya Goule, now on the US collegiate circuit, to pull her to the most important milestone.

She welcomed it.

"Natoya played a vital role in (my) accomplishing that feat. Her approach to the 800m is one I always admire - she doesn't wait for you to take the race to her, she just goes out and commands from the beginning, so upon instructions from my coach, I just stayed as close as I could with her and allowed her to pull me to sub-two-minute clocking and a PB."

Asked what her goal would be in Beijing, came the immediate response.

"I always set myself realistic, but ambitious expectations. I am going in with one intention, that is to leave with a medal. I know it will be hard and the odds will stack up against me, however, all my life I've defied the odds. I am more confident now that I can achieve at this level after my experience at the World University Games."

How much more confidence can this blossoming star have?

Foster's Fairplay asks all Jamaica to wish her the very best.

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