“…I enjoy my critics because they push me. When people say Veronica needs to retire or Veronica does not have it, that motivates me to prove them wrong.”
Jamaicans have a saying that ‘wha nuh dead nuh dash it weh’. Very wise words and especially so when the person in question is tried, tested and proven, a big stage performer and one of the most decorated athletes not just in the history of Jamaican track and field but also on the global scene. Veronica Campbell-Brown has been a fixture on Jamaican teams to global meets since her senior team debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when she earned a Silver medal as a member of the 4x100M team. Her record ranks her among the best female sprinters ever.
At the National Senior ‘Trials’ in late June, VCB as Campbell-Brown is affectionately called, had somewhat of a disappointing trials even though qualifying for both the 100m and 200m to the 2015 World Championship in Beijing, China. She finished 3rd in both events at the ‘Trials’, failing to break 11 seconds in the 100M and 23 seconds in the longer sprint. Many, including persons in media expressed sentiments that she was well past her best and should be looking at going off into the sunset before she tarnished her tremendous legacy of achievements.
VCB looked badly off colour at various meets on the circuit in the build up to the 15th World Championships and the whispers about her no longer being a force to be reckoned with grew that much louder. She entered the Beijing Games with many not even giving her a chance of making the final of either sprint after season best times of 10.99 and 22.79 respectively.
In the semi-finals of the 100m she ran a season best 10.89 seconds, her fastest time since June 2014 to progress to the final. Despite that time few gave her a shot of being a factor in the race much less winning. VCB who was in her 5th final, turned back the clock somewhat running brilliantly to be just nosed out of the Bronze medal position by American Torie Bowie.
Even with that welcome return to form, few gave her a chance of making the final of the 200m. VCB is not a stranger to silencing critics and secured her place as one of the fastest losers, entering the final with a season best 22.47 seconds, the 7th fastest time of all the finalists. She drew the dreaded lane two (lane one not used) and again, the odds were stacked against her, not just with the lane draw, but because the event also had hot steppers Elaine Thompson, Dafne Schippers, Candyce McGrone, Dina Asher-Smith and Jeneba Tarmoh, all of whom had gone significantly faster than the 2011 champion.
VCB was quick out of the blocks and ran the curve of her life to enter the straight marginally ahead of the fancied quartet of Asher-Smith, McGrone, Thompson and Schippers. She was soon gobbled up by Thompson and Schippers but held on gallantly to secure the Bronze ahead of a charging McGrone. VCB stopped the clock at 21.97 seconds, her fastest time since her Gold medal effort at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in 2008 when she ran 21.74 to secure a second consecutive Olympic title over the distance.
It was the first time she was going sub 22 seconds since running 21.98 in New York City in 2010. It was one of the truly great runs of her very storied career as once again she defied the odds to secure a spot on the podium. Her streak of winning an individual medal at every World Championship since 2005 was intact.
Buoyed by that memorable performance in the 200M, VCB set her sights on another medal, this time the sprint relay where the Jamaican team was fancied to take home the Gold. The Co-Captain for the Jamaica Team, took on the responsibility of running the opening leg, much to the surprise of many. She did not disappoint, running a brilliant leg to ensure her team-mate Natasha Morrison got the baton in front.
The Jamaican quartet with Thompson on the 3rd leg and 100M champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on anchor, decimated the field to win in a National and Championship Record time of 41.07. VCB had not only gained a Bronze in the 200M, but underlined her value to the sprint relay team in the Gold Medal winning performance. Not bad for a star athlete many said was in rapid decline.
With the two medals she now moves into 4th on the all time list with 11 behind Merlene Ottey (14), Usain Bolt (13) and Allyson Felix (13). Her medal count includes three Gold, seven Silver and one Bronze. She has every intention to add to that tally but before that opportunity comes around in 2017, there is the Rio Olympics in 2016. She also has a very good record at the Olympic Games and is keen to show her doubters that she is made of much sterner stuff.
“Until God tells me it’s time to go, then I know it will be time to go. Right now I know it’s not time to go. God has not closed the door on me yet. I am staying focused on my team and my ability to keep the critics talking… I enjoy my critics because they push me. When people say Veronica needs to retire or Veronica does not have it, that motivates me to prove them wrong,” said a passionate VCB in an interview with the media shortly after her unexpected Bronze medal in the 200M.