Belfast Telegraph

Rowing: I’ll be going for gold in London, says Campbell

Olympic sculler Alan Campbell officially opened the new Lagan Scullers Boathouse yesterday — and stressed his determination to win gold at London 2012.

Northern Ireland has not won individual Olympic gold since Mary Peters’ pentathlon triumph in 1972, but Campbell is confident he can improve significantly on his injury-hampered fifth place in Beijing, with his progress illustrated by a bronze medal at last month’s World Championship.

“I’m in a tough field, but I have established myself as medal class and should be in with a shout of the gold medal at London 2012,” said Campbell, who also attended his father’s 60th birthday party on Saturday during a brief visit home from his English training base.

“I should certainly be a contender for gold. I feel confident that I can move forward, get quicker, get better. So that being the case, why can’t I win that gold medal?

“I am doing all the right things, being absolutely committed, no grain of sand is being left unturned in order to give myself the best opportunity to win gold. The training is relentless. It’s very tough.”

Next year’s World Championship in Slovenia is Campbell’s next major event, an important staging post on the road to London and that gold medal.

“It acts as a qualifying regatta for the Olympics so it’s very important in that respect. There is also a World Cup series between now and the Olympics.

“Watching Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent winning Olympic gold in 1996 inspired me and hopefully I can win gold in 2012 and inspire a few people,” said Campbell, who was very impressed with Lagan Scullers’ new facility which he hopes will encourage more people to take up the sport.

“It’s been a great day and the new facility is absolutely fantastic.

“It’s a real testament to the members and the commitment they have shown.

“It’s very appropriate that they have been able to expand so close to London 2012, especially with so many international rowers coming from Northern Ireland,” said Coleraine oarsman Campbell, who acknowledged that his home town has developed a reputation as a hotbed for rowing talent.

“I don’t know any other town with the potential to have four or five Olympic rowers.

“There is great support for rowing in Coleraine in particular, but also in Northern Ireland in general. That makes a huge difference.

“(Rowing coach) Bobby Platt has made a huge contribution and has been awarded an MBE for his services to rowing. He has been involved with all the Coleraine rowers.

“Hopefully, especially around the time of the Olympics, us rowers can inspire young kids in Northern Ireland to take up rowing. It is fantastic that Lagan Scullers have the facility in place to cater for that.”

The new boathouse cost £130,000 — funded completely by the club — and has doubled the previous storage capacity. The original boathouse was built by the members themselves in 1981, with an extension added in 1986.

Lagan Scullers captain Gordon Reid, who coached Campbell as a 14-year-old, said: “Alan stood out even then and had a great attitude.

“We’re delighted he opened our new facility which we are all very proud of.”

Anyone interested in participating in rowing should visit www.laganscullers.co.uk

Belfast Telegraph

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