10:00AM, Monday 16 August 2021
Taylor Campbell. Getty Images for British Athletics
Disappointment was intertwined with pride for hammer thrower Taylor Campbell after competing at his very first Olympic Games in Tokyo this month.
The 25-year-old Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow (WSEH) athlete fell well short of his best in qualifying, failing to make it through to the final after only three throws.
However, as he reflected afterwards 'that's the savageness of Olympic competition'. Campbell hopes the experience of being in Tokyo and throwing alongside the world's best will stand him in good stead as he looks ahead to next year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
He managed only 71.34m in qualifying last week, some way short of his season's best of 78.23m, a mark he hit back in June and one which cemented his place in the British squad.
It was a hectic few months for the British champion in the run up the Games as he strove for the Olympic qualification mark, and he believes the stresses and strains of chasing that took a toll on his body in Tokyo.
He can now reflect with pride on his journey to qualify for his first Olympic Games, but also knows he must sharpen up in the coalface of competition where there is very little margin for error.
“There’s the journey to get there, to be in the best 32 in the world,” he said.
“I’ve got over that hurdle but now I want to compete.
“My season was a hard one, and I had really respected that. By the time I got out there my throw had just been under so much stress.
“I wasn’t able to get a good set of quality throws in out there, and technically they were a bit loose which isn’t like me.
“When you’re preparing for a big competition, you’re not able to take 10 steps back to try and find the right rhythm, you’ve just got to go for it.
“That was my mentality. It was all or nothing. I needed to go 75/76m, but unfortunately you only have three throws. My first throw just didn’t click, my second throw I released the hammer very flat and that was the 71m. Then I had one throw.
“There was no time to set the feelers out, I just had to get it done.
“That’s the savageness of the Olympics. You don’t have time to mess around and if you’re not on it, you’re off it. The bronze medallist, who is also the world champion, it’s taken him three Olympics to get through qualifying. I am disappointed with it, but in my mind the whole season was based around getting there.”
Back at his training base in Loughborough and with jetlag mercifully waning, Campbell is fully focused on getting closer to the world's elite.
He's set up a Go Fund Me sponsorship page to compliment the funding he receives from UK Sport in an attempt to ease the costs of training and competing.
But, even with this, he feels he'll have to get a part-time job or coach others to supplement his income.
For now, he plans to take his first real break since August 2019, allowing a slight knee injury time to heal before he gets back to the grindstone at the end of September.
He said: “I couldn’t get what I wanted in Tokyo, but you learn these lessons when you’re young.
“The guys I was competing against were all 30-odd years of age. I was the baby of the group, but in three years’ time I’ll be 28, and for the one after that I’ll be 32, which is when I’ll likely be in my prime for this sport.
“My knee is not going to recover is I continue to push and compete, so I’ll take some time away from the sport. I’ll still do some throwing and weightlifting though. I’ll just be training for fun without pressure or repercussions.
“My last proper break was in August 2019, and the pandemic wasn’t a break. I’m going to take a break to get my mind feeling good and will then come back at the end of September.”
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