World Championships and Olympic Games gold medallist Veronica Campbell Brown interacts with students during one of the exercises at Irwin High on Wednesday. (PHOTO: PAUL REID)
IRWIN, St James — Despite enduring one of her toughest seasons in her long and glittering career, Veronica Campbell Brown says she is encouraged and looking forward to what she thinks will be a tough Olympic year in 2016.
"Discomfort" in her hamstrings and abductors early in the season restricted her and caused her not to train as hard as she would at crucial periods this season, but winning a bronze medal in the 200m in her third fastest time ever, 21.97 seconds, and a gold medal in the women's 4x100m relay capped off a successful stint.
Despite winning a medal against the odds, Campbell Brown was not surprised by the achievement.
"It does not matter how I feel physically, when I go into a race, I go there believing I can win, if I don't believe I can win; then it does not make sense I line up, and even if I finish last, I am still grateful as it is a victory for me just to be competing," she said.
Campbell Brown, who addressed over 140 female eighth grade students at Irwin High on Wednesday, in her capacity as United Nations Ambassador for gender equality, shared with the Jamaica Observer that divine help got her through a difficult year.
"I must admit 2015 was one of my toughest seasons; I had a lot of setbacks but did not complain. I just trusted God and continued to work hard," said the veteran athlete.
Campbell Brown, who has won 18 medals at the Olympics and World Championships level, was third in both the 100m and 200m at the JAAA National Senior Championships in late June, but bounced back by qualifying for the finals of the 100m and 200m at the World Championships in Beijing, China in August.
Her less-than-stellar performance in June and on the circuit, she disclosed, was due to physical issues. "For about two months I could not train as hard as I wanted to, as I was having discomfort in my hamstrings and abductors.
"I was training, but at a low-keyed pace as I was training through discomfort. It was not enough that I could not train, but was enough to stop me from pushing the envelope, and that set me back.
"Even in competitions, I did not feel the rhythm I was looking for, but thanks be to God, everything came together the last three weeks before Worlds."
While she said she was able to train better and pain-free in the last few weeks before the start of the World Championships, the lack of consistent hard work cost
her, as in the first few races it was "tough" going.
"It was tough as I felt a little rusty. I was competing, but I did not take my body to the place I wanted and did not really find my groove until the 100m semi-finals... it came late, but God is always on time," Campbell Brown said.
There was more she had hoped to achieve in 2015, but still she is grateful.
"At the end of the day, I have to be very thankful as my 200m time was my second- fastest in my career, so I cannot be ungrateful... I had a good championships despite the setbacks," she said.
Always looking at the big picture, Campbell Brown said: "The good thing is any time you can go to a major championship and leave with an individual medal, no matter what colour it is, it's a blessing as there are so many talented athletes out there. And after doing it for so many years and still being blessed with the ability to go out there and medal, it's a blessing."
With the Rio Olympics on the horizon, Campbell Brown said she is ready for whatever comes her way. "2016 is a big target, a tough year, so I have to stay connected and focused."
She had said in August that she was thinking of hanging up her spikes after the 2017 season, but now she says she is not sure anymore.
"I said that, but when I look back I don't even know... I don't know as it comes down to how my body feels and what plan God has for me... I don't know when I will stop, but I feel good [having] run 21.97 (seconds) in 2015 based on what I went through," Campbell Brown ended.