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Alan Campbell hopes special link to Brazil will create a second 'home' Olympics

Team game: Alan Campbell poses by the River Thames in London after being announced in the Team GB squad for the Rio Games
Team game: Alan Campbell poses by the River Thames in London after being announced in the Team GB squad for the Rio Games

By Steven Beacom

Alan Campbell wants the 2016 Olympics to become his second 'home' Games in succession.

The Ulsterman was roared to a single sculls bronze medal by 30,000 British fans at Eton Dorney at London 2012 and due to a family link with Rio, the 33-year-old believes he might gain some Brazilian support when he is the first Team GB rower in action on August 6.

The connection, which is not widely known, is that Campbell's father-in-law was born in Rio close to the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas which will be the Coleraine native's office next month.

"My wife Jules is half Brazilian. Her dad was actually born in Rio de Janeiro, close to where the rowing course is. He is now living in England but we still have family in Brazil which is great," says Campbell, who is retiring from the sport after the Olympics.

More: I'm quitting after Rio Olympics to spend more time with my family: Alan Campbell

"I've been out in Rio for training and have quite a few friends who actually train and row on the Lagoa where we are racing. I'm really excited to get out and see those guys and they'll be supporting me. Brazil won't have a men's singles competitor, so since they don't have one they can hopefully shout for me instead.

"I'm hoping it will be like a second home Games for me after London."

The rowing regatta is in the heart of Rio with the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue acting as a spectacular backdrop.

Campbell will be joined in Team GB's rowing team by fellow Northern Ireland men Richard and Peter Chambers.

"It is a really exciting time being around this team. It is definitely the best Olympic rowing team I have ever been part of and that is saying something because we had such a successful 2012," says the man from the Tideway Scullers' club.

"For the three of us to be representing Northern Ireland as well is great. Sport in Northern Ireland is on a real high.

"The Northern Ireland football team did brilliantly to get into the knockout stages in the Euro 2016 finals.

"It has been a big boost for football in Northern Ireland and generally what they achieved was a big boost for the province in terms of people taking notice of our sport.

"We have some great sportspeople competing on the world stage and we are also capable of hosting great events, be that the Giro d'Italia or the World Police and Fire Games, which my parents were volunteers for.

"We are really into our sport. I remember coming back from London 2012 and there were pictures of me and our other Olympic medal winners on lorries and shop displays.

"There was a really good vibe. Hopefully people will take that same level of interest with the Games in Rio and hopefully we'll bring home more medals."

Belfast Telegraph


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