Jeremy Campbell soars at Paralympic Trials
INDIANAPOLIS -- Jeremy Campbell didn’t need an official measurement to know his final throw in the discus event was a good one.
“There we go — about time,” Campbell yelled as his final throw sailed at 62.52 meters (205-feet, 1-inch) at the U.S. Paralympic Trials — Track & Field. It was a soaring throw, but just short of his previous best of 63.45 meters, a world record (in the T44 class) he set at the Endeavor Games in Edmond, Okla.
Campbell is expected to be part of the U.S. team that will compete in the London 2012 Paralympic Games and is awaiting an official announcement of the team nominees on Sunday. The Trials will help determine the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team, but also includes athletes from 14 other countries.
“It didn’t start coming together until the last attempt, but I’m glad I was able to collect myself and finish hard,” said Campbell, who is a University of Central Oklahoma resident athlete. “It was just a slow start and this heat really got to me. It was a long trip (to get to Indianapolis) and I was just trying to pull it together.”
Any recent adjustments Campbell hoped to implement were negated when the heat and travel took away any bounce he had in his step.
“We came in with a few things we’ve worked on, but my legs just weren’t there, and when your legs aren’t there it’s hard to work on those things,” Campbell said. “I had to really exaggerate my drive on the back and it didn’t really come through until the last few throws.”
Coach Larry Judge was proud of the way Campbell competed in the event, which is held outside of the Michael A. Carroll Stadium on the campus of IUPUI.
“The hype and atmosphere of the meet just wasn’t there, but he did a great job of really bringing the heat, settling down, composing himself and coming up with what would have been a world record aside from his throw at the Endeavor Games,” Judge said.
Campbell, who was born without a right fibula, holds the world record in the discus, breaking his own record twice within the past month. He won the gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in the discus and pentathlon events, though the latter has since been discontinued.
With the five-sport event’s elimination, Campbell chose to focus solely on the discus, which was one portion of the pentathlon.
“I gravitated toward the discus and have focused completely on it for two years,” Campbell said. “I’m excited that I still have a lot more room for improvement. I just fell in love with the sport and really became a student of it because I loved it. With the competition in the Paralympics rising I think it takes that.”
Campbell has thrown for more than 200 feet on three occasions this year, making him the first Paralympic athlete to ever surpass the distance.
“He’s just become a student of the discus,” Judge said. “He’s made the transition from being a multi-sport athlete to being a specialist. To compete at the highest level which is Jeremy’s goal, it takes that extra bit of dedication and focus, which is what he has been able to do. He’s a student of the event and goes out each day in practice and goes to work.”
Judge said Campbell has the mental makeup, along with the physical abilities, to compete at a high level. Campbell comes from quite an athletic family. His brother, Jacob, is a former professional bull rider, and another brother, Caleb, is a linebacker in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs. Jeremy not only excels in discus, but also was the quarterback of his high school football team.
Campbell’s physical and mental strength were on display in Indianapolis.
“You have to have that extra gear mentally to be able to lay it on the line,” Judge said. “That’s what I’ve seen Jeremy do week in and week out this season. From last week at Endeavor when he threw a world record at 8 a.m., to going to World Cup and taking on the hometown favorite and beating him head-to-head. All of these things just show me that he has what it takes to upstairs and you have to have the combination of both mental and physical.”