Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year three times.
ARK. SPORTS HALL OF FAME:
Jamaican gave UA sprinting credibility
Twenty years after Veronica Campbell-Brown competed in her first Olympics in 2000, the University of Arkansas graduate isn't ready to retire from the track.
Campbell-Brown, 37, is training to run the 100 meters at the Jamaican Olympic Trials on June 25 in Kingston.
Veronica Campbell-Brown at a glance
COLLEGE University of Arkansas
HOMETOWN Clark’s Town, Trelawny Parish, Jamaica
SPORT Track and field
EVENTS 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 relay
LIVES AND TRAINS IN Williamsburg, Va.
AGE 37 (born May 15, 1982)
FAMILY Husband Omar Brown and daughter Avianna
NOTEWORTHY Has competed in five Olympics — 2000 through 2016 — and won eight medals, including gold in the 200 in 2004 and 2008, and in the 400 relay in 2004. … Has won 11 medals at the World Championships, including three gold. … Competed at the University of Arkansas in 2004 during the indoor and outdoor seasons after transferring from Barton County (Kan.) Community College. Was a four-time All-American and won the NCAA 200 title indoors for the Razorbacks. … Turned pro after her junior year at Arkansas, but stayed in school and graduated from the UA in 2006 with a marketing degree. … Life-sized bronze statue of her at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, was unveiled last fall. … Served as the flag bearer for the Jamaican team at the 2008 Olympics.
The fourth in a series profiling inductees into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
If Campbell-Brown finishes among the top three to qualify for the Jamaican team that will compete in Tokyo this summer -- she also could earn a spot on the 400 relay team -- she'll run in her sixth Olympics.
In five previous Olympic appearances, Campbell-Brown has earned eight medals, including three gold for winning the 200 in 2004 and 2008, and running on the winning 400 relay team in 2004. She also has won 11 medals at the World Championships, including three golds.
"It would be like icing on the cake if I'm able to run in my sixth Olympic Games, because I feel like I don't have anything else to prove," Campbell-Brown said. "But at this stage in my life and my career, running in the Olympic Games one more time would be extra special."
Before Campbell-Brown runs in the Jamaican Trials, she'll be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame on March 13 during a banquet at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.
Campbell-Brown ran for the Razorbacks for just one indoor and outdoor season in 2004 -- winning the NCAA 200 title indoors and being a four-time All-American -- after transferring from Barton County (Kan.) Community College. Nonetheless, she's had a lasting impact on the program, Razorbacks Coach Lance Harter said.
"Veronica probably single-handedly put us on the map as far as becoming a program for sprinters," said Harter, who is in his 30th year at Arkansas as the cross country and track and field coach. "I think we were stereotyped as a program that was heavy in the distances and the field events. Veronica immediately brought us legitimacy and world stature in the sprints."
Since Campbell-Brown starred at Arkansas, the Razorbacks consistently have produced All-American sprinters, including Payton Chadwick and Janeek Brown, who both were national champion hurdlers.
"There's a very large picture of Veronica on our office wall when you walk down the hallway, and she's holding a bunch of Olympic medals," Harter said. "It's obviously there to impress recruits so they know Veronica came to school here. That's a lot of credibility and notoriety for our program."
Harter has led Arkansas to five national titles in cross country, and indoor and outdoor track since 2015. His teams also have won 38 SEC championships since the 1991-92 school year.
"As an Arkansas alumnus, I'm so proud to sit back and watch the great performances over the years and to see the legacy of success continue and grow even greater," Campbell-Brown said. "We are doing so well in the sprints as well as the distances and the field events.
"Coach Harter is a great person, and he's really built a total program."
Campbell-Brown said she's honored to be going into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
"To be recognized for my achievements and to be among the great contributors to the rich history of sports in the state of Arkansas, I'm very humbled and grateful," Campbell-Brown said. "I'm very appreciative for all the love and support that I've received from the state of Arkansas."
Campbell-Brown signed to run professionally after her junior year at Arkansas, but she stayed in Fayetteville to train and complete her marketing degree in 2006.
"Education has always been important to me," she said. "My objective always was to get my degree, whether I was going pro early or not.
"As athletes, we're not going to be able to compete in sports forever, but we will always need our degree to follow our chosen path as we get older."
Campbell-Brown married Omar Brown, who also is from Jamaica and was an All-American sprinter for the Razorbacks.
The couple live in Williamsburg, Va. -- where Brown is an assistant coach for the William & Mary track and field team -- and have a daughter, Avianna, who was born Feb. 23, 2019.
Campbell-Brown said motherhood is a blessing, but also a challenge.
"I think being a mom is harder than being an athlete, because the job of being a mom never stops," she said. "You just keep going.
"As busy as you are as an athlete, there are times when you can just relax and don't even worry about track. Being a mom, there's really not much time to relax, but it is really rewarding. I enjoy watching Avianna grow and develop. She's very energetic and active. She just cannot sit still."
Campbell-Brown took a break from training and competing during her pregnancy and after giving birth. Her last race was in 2018.
"So it's been a while, but I'm keeping a positive attitude about my training," she said. "When the time is right, I'll start competing and see how things go."
Campbell-Brown, who turns 38 on May 15, said she hopes to provide inspiration by resuming her track career after giving birth.
"When I was thinking about whether or not I should try to run in the 2020 Olympic Games, what really impacted my decision is looking at how great it would be if I were to come back and do well, how it would influence a lot of females," Campbell-Brown said. "To let them know that they can achieve so many things based on different circumstances."
Campbell-Brown's career has been filled with so many highlights that last fall a life-sized bronze statue of her was unveiled at the National Stadium in Kingston -- where she'll be competing to try to make another Olympic team.
"Sprinting is a volatile business, and the threat of injury is always just a step away, so Veronica's ability to stay on top for so long and keep her body healthy and in tune is almost miraculous," Harter said. "But her mindset is to do everything to perfection.
"I mean, her career is the Olympic standard. She's always been very precise about how she's trained, how she takes care of herself with her diet and making sure she gets enough sleep."
Campbell-Brown is trying to become the sixth track and field athlete to compete in six Olympics.
Merlene Ottey, a sprinter for Jamaica and Slovenia, holds the record for track and field athletes with seven Olympic appearances between 1980 and 2004,
Four track and field athletes have made six Olympic appearances: javelin thrower and heptathlete Tessa Sanderson (Great Britain); discus thrower Lia Manoliu (Romania); and middle distance runners Maria Mutola (Mozambique) and Joao N'Tyamba (Angola).
"To make an Olympic team once -- especially as a sprinter from Jamaica, which is so loaded with talent -- it takes a very special individual," Harter said. "But to make it twice, three times, four, then five, you have to be someone who doesn't come along but once every 100 years.
"Veronica has fended off some of the world's best athletes just to be able to wear the national jersey of Jamaica. It's absolutely incredible what she's accomplished with the margin for error so minimal."
Harter said no one should count out Campbell-Brown from overcoming the odds and making her sixth Olympic team.
"A lot depends on her ability stay healthy, and as you get older, that gets harder and harder to do," Harter said. "But if there's anyone who takes care of every detail to make sure that she can be at her best, it's Veronica. She's been that way since Day One in her career."
Sports on 03/06/2020
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