Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Olympian Alan Campbell's mum raps 'unfair' coaching system

Volunteers: Jennifer and William Campbell with their son Alan, Olympic rowing bronze medal winner
Volunteers: Jennifer and William Campbell with their son Alan, Olympic rowing bronze medal winner

The mother of bronze medal-winning rower Alan Campbell has hit out at the coaching system that relied on the goodwill of unpaid people to see her son achieve Olympic success.

Jennifer Campbell (59) said: “Bill Barry, who has coached Alan for 10 years, is only a volunteer coach and Team GB would not commit a coach to single sculling — only to teams of two or more.

“I am greatly peeved as I think they were abdicating their duty.

“Bill, now 71, would be on the road at 6.30am in the morning, would finish after an afternoon session at 3pm or 4pm, then go to conferences with Alan. Bill, who won silver in the rowing four in 1964, believed in Alan and that led to Alan believing in himself.

“The training camps they attended in Europe were covered (financially) but not mileage, and that could be 1,000 miles a week. That’s a lot of personal expense.’’

Yet Jennifer and her husband William (61) agree wholeheartedly with the principle of volunteering, when it is not replacing paid roles. They have both put their names forward as potential volunteers for the big games arriving in Belfast next year, the World Police and Fire Games 2013.

Jennifer said: “I am looking forward to meeting and greeting during the Games as I like people.

“I’m retiring from my job as principal of the DH Christie Memorial School in December and hope to use my time wisely.

“I already volunteer at the Riverside, Coleraine.”

Her husband, a retired engineer, added: “I was very impressed by the number of people who helped Alan and that’s why we want to help.’’

The 2013 Games needs 3,500 volunteers — game makers, drivers, doctors, physios, meeters and greeters.

If you are interested, visit www.2013wpfg.com/volunteers or phone 028 9023 2020.

Story so far

  • He wasn’t sporty at school but Alan started rowing at Coleraine Academical Institute for Boys, and then joined the Bann Rowing Club.
  • He won the Diamond Sculls at Henley Regatta in 2003.
  • At Beijing in 2008, Alan finished fifth, but at London 2012 he won bronze after battling it out through the last 500 metres.

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