Campbell places fifth at nationals
Eric Campbell has set an impossibly high standard for himself based on his past results.
The 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Sir Winston Churchill had a high school season for the ages during the last school year, winning Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations’ gold medals in junior boys cross country in the fall and the junior boys 800 and 1,500 metres in the spring.
Previous to the school year, the Niagara Olympic Club member won gold in the under-16 800 metres and medley relay, silver in the under-18 4X400-metre relay, a bronze medal in the 1,200 metres and was named Ontario’s male athlete of the national championships.
It would have been impossible for Campbell to match those feats at this year’s Legion National Track and Field Championships in Cape Breton, N.S., considering the 16-year-old was racing older competitors in the under-18 division. He still managed to place fifth in the 800 metres in a time of 1:55.18, which was 0.02 seconds off the time that won him OFSAA gold.
“It was a good race. I wasn’t putting my expectations too high because my competitors are a year older,” he said. “My goal was to just have a good race in the 800 because I had a lousy race in the 1,500 two days earlier.”
He did exactly that.
“I went out and led the race and tried to see if I could run a good time and hopefully get a medal,” Campbell said. “Unfortunately it didn’t happen at the end because the bigger guys outkicked me.”
That being said, he wasn’t disappointed
“I saw my time, 1:55, and thought that was all I could ask for. It was a good way to end the season.”
Competing at the nationals was just one more stop on his way to becoming an elite runner.
“It was a good experience competing against bigger kids, especially going into cross (country) season where I am not only going to be competing against my grade, but Grade 12s,” he said. “It also gives me good motivation considering I came fifth at the U18 nationals. I have big hopes for next year.”
Niagara Olympic Club coach Derrick Beach said Campbell should be proud of his performance.
“It’s very impressive,” he said. “He had a great 800 metres and a good 1,500 metres as well. They were two strong races and it was great experience for next year. It is looking really good.”
That extra year is a big deal in running results.
“They are stronger, they have more endurance, quite often they have an extra year of training and it makes a big difference in times,” Beach said. “It can be the difference between coming 10th and first.”
Campbell’s goal for the high school cross country season is to place top 10 at OFSAA.
“It is going to be a challenge to hit the podium and if I can get top 10 or even top eight I would be proud of that.”
But he may still find the OFSAA podium.
“Now that I have a really good team to compete with, hopefully we can finish the season with at least a bronze medal or hopefully gold.”
Campbell believes the Churchill senior boys are a legitimate threat this season.
“We have a lot of strong runners, they are all in good shape and healthy, and they are all really excited to start the season.”
He shares that enthusiasm and is looking forward to progressing more this season.
“I want to get that consistency, get my stamina back and get into running,” he said. “I have had a nice three weeks off and now I want to focus on keeping up with the front pack and helping my team out a little bit.
BPSN’s coverage of the track and field season is made possible with the support of the Niagara Olympic Club (https://nocrunners.com).