London Calling

Aaron Kennedy talks to UCD’s David Campbell, who has his sights set on the 2012 OlympicsTwenty-nine-year-old David Campbell is one of UCD’s Olympic hopefuls for London 2012. He competes over varying disciplines, primarily the 800 metre and 1500 metre track run.Nearly a year ago, he had two surgeries on his back which kept him out of racing for some time, but he has since started to get back to full fitness. “Back’s feeling great now, it really took about a year for the back and hips to settle after the two surgeries. It was a tough enough year but I am back on track now,” says Campbell. “Training is kicking along nicely, I’m about four months into it after starting in August.”His weekly routine is a vigorous one, as he is running at the highest of standards in athletics: “Monday I go for a morning run and then in the evening I go for a run as well, five miles in the morning and seven miles in the evening. Tuesday I go for five miles in the morning and eight in the evening and a track on a Wednesday and a hill session on the weekend.”His main plans for next summer are focused solely on competing in the Olympics, and he is looking to use the European Championships in Finland as a platform to prepare himself for the bigger task ahead.“The main goal is the Olympic games at the start of August in London - everything is building towards the Olympics. There’s also the European Championships at the end of June in Helsinki, so that will be nice preparation along the way.”Campbell’s confidence levels are high after coming back from injury and he has no doubts about his qualification for the games next summer when he runs the standard in May or June.Currently in second year Physiotherapy, Campbell balances his training with one of the most demanding courses in the University. The course helps him better understand every facet of his sport, improving on his knowledge from being a sports massage therapist: “I’m really looking forward to [progressing further in the course]. It’ll really open up my eyes to areas of physiotherapy I wouldn’t have thought about before.”He plans to go to Australia after Christmas, to train with some of the top coaches in athletics: “I’ll have a good group to train with down there. Sonia O’Sullivan’s husband, Nick Bideau, has a group of some of the best distance runners in the world down there; some Australians, some British guys and some Americans. The facilities are very good there; we do a lot of the training up the mountains for the month and then in Melbourne, where the facilities are second to none”The athletics facilities down under are an exciting prospect for David, giving him a chance to train with some of the best athletes in the world, as well as giving him a welcome retreat from an Irish winter.The recent closure of the running track has evoked outrage among the UCD Athletics Club and many others. The track in UCD has closed due to health and safety concerns, leaving the club and members of the public frustrated with the lack of athletics facilities on campus.Campbell is left puzzled as to how this has happened. He has used the track regularly for many years and is dismayed that these benefits have been taken away from athletes, as well as the public and UCD students. “I’m just confused by the motives,” says Campbell. “We’re on the verge of an epidemic of obesity in Ireland right now: diabetes, heart problems, and the biggest remedy for all these problems is exercise. The biggest university in Ireland has taken away a facility that the whole of south-county Dublin has been using for forty years.”“It’s accessible to everybody, even if you had never ran in your life, you would know that the Belfield [athletics track] is there. It’s an institution; it’s the heartbeat of the college.”Campbell’s passion for athletics is obvious, but he notes that he might have quit the sport seven years ago were it not for James Nolan, Head Athletics Coach at UCD, who Campbell says has been one of the most inspirational people involved in his career. “I guess without James I wouldn’t be running today. He gave me a lot of confidence when I was younger, and kept me in the sport when I nearly fell out of it at around twenty-two”.Campbell’s determination is self-evident, and it would be no surprise if the young athlete continues to succeed on his path to London 2012.