Darren Campbell
Darren Campbell 2009.png
Darren Campbell in 2009
Personal information
Born (1973-09-12) 12 September 1973 (age 49)
Sale, Manchester, England
Height6 ft 0.5 in (1.84 m)
Event(s)100 metres, 200 metres

Darren Andrew Campbell, MBE (born 12 September 1973) is a British former sprint athlete. He was the sprint coach at Wasps Rugby Club for the 2015–16 season.[1] He competed in the 100 metres and 200 metres, as well as the 4 × 100 metres relay.

Campbell was a promising junior athlete and won a number of medals at the World and European Junior Championships. He spent two years away from athletics, playing professional football but returned in 1995, attending his first Olympics shortly afterwards. He began to compete as part of the British 4 × 100 m relay team and between 1997 and 2000 he won two World Championship medals, a gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, and set the European record in the event. Success also came in the individual events: he became the 1998 European Champion in the 100 m and won his first Olympic medal, a silver in the 200 m at the 2000 Sydney Games. In the 100 m he won silver at the 2002 European Championships and was the 2003 World Championships bronze medallist.

Campbell formed part of perhaps Britain's most successful relay team – they won in the European Cup in 1999 and 2000, at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and took the gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics (the first time a British team had done so since 1912). Campbell had also won a gold medal at the 2002 European Championships and a 2003 World Championship silver medal but had to return them when his running-mate, Dwain Chambers, tested positive for banned substances, sparking much animosity between the two. He won his last medal in 2006, again taking the relay gold at the European Championships, and he retired shortly afterwards. His personal bests of 10.04 s in the 100 m and 20.13 s in the 200 m were not prodigiously quick by elite global standards, but over his career he earned an impressive reputation as a 'championship' runner, saving his best for finals and collecting significantly more medals than his times alone would indicate.

He now works with various Premier League football clubs, working with the players to improve their sprinting ability. He also regularly visits schools to promote sport among children, on behalf of the Youth Sport Trust, and he also recently appeared as a VIP guest at Sheffield Hallam University's annual Sports Ball held at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre.


Early career

Raised on the Racecourse Estate in Sale, Greater Manchester,[2][3] Campbell was a talented athlete and footballer in his youth. His first national success in athletics was a gold medal at the English Schools Championships in the 200 m. Campbell then won the 100 m and 200 m gold medals at the 1991 European Junior Championships held in Thessaloniki, Greece, as well as a gold medal in the 4 × 100 m. A year later, he won silver medals at the 1992 World Junior Championships, in the sprint double, and a gold medal in the 4 × 100 m relay. He was beaten both times by Ato Boldon, who became the first athlete to win a double at the championships. His senior international debut came at the Stuttgart World Championships in 1993, as part of the 4 × 100 m squad. However, as a result of injuries, he left athletics at the age of 21 to launch a career in football with trials for Cwmbran Town, Plymouth Argyle,[4] Yorkley, Weymouth, UWIC Inter Cardiff and Newport County amongst others. During a debate on TalkSPORT on 14 August 2006, Campbell stated this period away from athletics had also been spurred on by attempts by certain individuals to draw him into a drugs programme.[5]

Return to athletics

Campbell returned to athletics in 1995, and ran the 100 m in 10.34sec that year. The following year, he improved his 100 m time to 10.17sec, and represented Britain in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, USA. Campbell only represented Britain in the 4 × 100 m relay, but the baton was dropped as it was passed on to him. (Video evidence of the race)

At the 1997 World Championships, Campbell won his first major senior medal – a bronze in the 4 × 100 m relay, and by this time was a regular feature in the British squad.

Campbell's first senior gold medals came at the 1998 European Championships in Budapest. Campbell won the 100 m individual event, setting his best time at the 100 m in the final – 10.13sec, and also winning gold in the 4 × 100 m relay. At the Commonwealth Games that year, Campbell helped break the championship record for the 4 × 100 m relay. However, he won no individual medals.

The following year, in the 1999 World Championships, held in Seville, Campbell won the silver medal in the 4 × 100 m relay, but was eliminated from his individual event in the semi-finals.

2000 and the Sydney Olympics

In 2000, Campbell won the man of the match award in the European Cup following his performance in the 100 m. Campbell replaced Jason Gardener with 20 minutes notice, and won the race in a time of 10.09sec (wind-assisted). He also ran in a leg in the winning 4 × 100 m relay team.

At the Olympics in Sydney, Campbell placed 6th in the 100 m final, and took a surprise silver medal in the 200 m, as Campbell was mainly a 100 m runner, and had a previous best time of 20.49sec. In the quarter-final, he took 0.29sec off this to reduce to 20.13sec, his fastest time at the distance in his career. This was followed by performances of 20.23sec in the semi-final and 20.14sec in the final to finish second, Campbell's first senior medal at the distance. The gold medal was won by controversial Greek sprinter Konstantinos Kenteris.


Campbell was again hit by injury in 2001, missing the majority of the year's competitions. He had run 10.16sec for the 100 m and 20.41sec for the 200 m, and been named European Cup captain prior to the injury.

After returning from injury the following year, Campbell took bronze in the individual 100 m event and gold in the 4 × 100 m relay at the 2002 European Championships. His bronze was later upgraded to a silver after Dwain Chambers confessed to taking performance-enchancing drugs at this time. However, the relay gold was later taken from him, as Chambers was part of the quartet. He won his quarter-final in the 200 m, but was eliminated after being disqualified for stepping outside his lane.

The year also saw Campbell compete in his home town of Manchester in the Commonwealth Games. He did repeat his Olympic success in the 200 m, receiving bronze in this event. However, he anchored the team to gold in the 4 × 100 m relay along with squad members Jason Gardener, Marlon Devonish and Allyn Condon, just beating Asafa Powell of Jamaica in a very tight photo finish.


In 2003, at the Paris World Championships, Campbell took bronze in the 100 m, but missed on a medal in the 200 m, finishing fourth in the final. He also ran the 2nd leg for the 4 × 100 m relay team, but later lost this medal due to Dwain Chambers being found guilty of doping. Campbell also set his 60 m PB of 6.59sec this year.

In the 2004 Summer Olympics, Campbell won a surprise gold medal in the 4 × 100 m, in a team with Jason Gardener, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis, who defeated the USA team by just 0.01sec, winning in a season's best of 38.07sec.[6] However, Campbell performed less well in the 100 m and 200 m, exiting in the heat and semi-final respectively, due to not being fully recovered from a hamstring injury.

He was named captain for the European Cup in 2005, however did not have a successful season, only placing 5th in the AAA semi-final and running 10.47sec (10.48w) for the 100 m and 20.9sec for the 200 m. He did, however, receive an MBE in the New Year Honours.

Campbell competed at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, however did not progress past the semi-final in the 200 m, and the England team were eliminated in the 4 × 100 m after a faulty baton changeover in their heat. He did not compete individually at the European Championships in Gothenburg, but ran the second leg to help Britain to the gold medal in the 4 x 100 relay.

European Championships row

On 13 August 2006, after winning the 4 × 100 m European relay gold medal with Great Britain, Campbell left the track without completing a lap of honour with the rest of his teammates. He initially remained cryptic about his problems, but revealed the next day that his lap of honour boycott was due to his loss of two relay medals (2002 European Championships gold and 2003 World Championships silver) as a result of Dwain Chambers' doping. Campbell did, however, explain that he did stand by Chambers insofar as he was not solely accountable, but he felt Chambers had a duty to inform the authorities of the individuals who led him to his departure to America and his resulting adoption of a drug programme. John Regis criticised Campbell for this stand, also noting that his coach (Linford Christie) had served a drugs ban.[7]

Campbell defended himself, saying "I will not regret doing that. At times you have to stand up for what you believe", and also that he was concerned about youngsters ending up the same situation.[8] He also defended his links with Christie, stating that he would not have remained with Christie if he thought he had cheated.[9]


Campbell announced his retirement on 18 August 2006.[10] His final race was at the inaugural Celtic Cup race in Grangemouth, where he won the 100 m competing as a guest. Campbell surprised[10] Dave Collins and UK Athletics, who had been expecting him to retire following the two-day international athletics meeting at Birmingham taking place over the following two days.

In July 2007, Campbell was announced as the new ambassador for Sky Sports Living for Sport, a successful initiative run by the Youth Sport Trust in conjunction with BSkyB, which uses sport as a tool to re-engage young people who may be at risk of opting out of school life. Sky Sports Living for Sport, now in its fifth year, has involved over 600 schools and benefited over 17,000 young people aged 11–16. Campbell's role will see him meet young people and teachers involved in Sky Sports Living for Sport across the country to share his experiences and help inspire them to reach their full potential.

Football coaching

Campbell is well regarded in football circles; he has given training sessions to Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton. He is said to be a pace and acceleration specialist.[11] Campbell also worked with MK Dons, at the invitation of then manager, Paul Ince.

"When you look at some of the other big Premiership clubs, it looks as if they are doing the same kind of thing. As a Manchester United fan, I have noticed that their players run very efficiently. Arsenal's players are the same. But there are usually improvements you can make. The only player I don't think I could improve would be Thierry Henry. His technique is already up there. He could easily be a sprinter, and is the template I use with other footballers."

Rugby coaching

He has also been engaged by several professional rugby clubs such as Sale Sharks and Saracens to help develop the power and speed of the squad for the 2011–12 season.[12][13] He has also previously worked with Jonah Lomu while the Kiwi was playing rugby for Cardiff.[14]

Personal bests

Campbell's reputation was made as a championship runner, rather than a runner of fast times. Although he never raced below 10 seconds for 100m, or 20 seconds for the 200m, he consistently outperformed rivals with faster personal and seasons bests, enabling him to pick up medals at global and continental championships, and was an excellent, and consistent, relay runner. His medal record of Olympic gold and silver, and World Championship silver and bronze left him second only to Linford Christie among post war British sprinters in terms of global medals.

Event Time (seconds) Venue Date
50 metres 5.77 Madrid, Spain 16 February 1999
60 metres 6.59 Birmingham, England 21 February 2003
100 metres 10.04 Budapest, Hungary 19 August 1998
150 metres 15.47 Sheffield, England 29 June 1997
200 metres 20.13 Sydney, Australia 27 September 2000


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Great Britain and  England
1991 European Junior Championships Thessaloniki, Greece 1st 100 m 10.46
1st 200 m 20.61
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 39.86
1992 World Junior Championships Seoul, South Korea 2nd 100 m 10.46 (0.0 m/s)
2nd 200 m 20.87 (+0.3 m/s)
1st 4 × 100 m relay 39.21
1996 European Cup Madrid, Spain 3rd 4 × 100 m relay 38.67
Olympic Games Atlanta, USA 4 × 100 m relay DNF
1997 World Championships Athens, Greece 16th (sf) 100 m 10.37
3rd 4 × 100 m relay 38.14
1998 European Championships Budapest, Hungary 1st 100 m 10.04
1st 4 × 100 m relay 38.52
Commonwealth Games Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 5th 100 m 10.08
1st 4 × 100 m relay 38.20
1999 World Championships Seville, Spain 10th (sf) 100 m 10.15
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 37.73 (AR)
European Cup Paris, France 1st 4 × 100 m relay 38.16
2000 Summer Olympics Sydney, Australia 6th 100 m 10.13
2nd 200 m 20.14
European Cup Gateshead, United Kingdom 1st 100 m 10.09 w
1st 4 × 100 m relay 38.41
2002 European Championships Munich, Germany 2nd 100 m 10.15
4th (h) 200 m 20.661
4 × 100 m relay DQ
Commonwealth Games Manchester, United Kingdom 3rd 200 m 20.21
1st 4 × 100 m relay 38.62
2003 World Championships Paris, France 3rd 100 m 10.08
4th 200 m 20.39
4 × 100 m relay DQ
European Cup Florence, Italy 3rd 4 × 100 m relay 38.60
2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece 36th (h) 100 m 10.35
15th (sf) 200 m 20.89
1st 4 × 100 m relay 38.07
2006 Commonwealth Games Melbourne, Australia 14th (h) 200 m 20.94 (w)1
4 × 100 m relay DNF
European Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 1st 4 × 100 m relay 38.91

1Disqualified in the quarterfinals

Apart from these performances, during his career Campbell has also won seven national titles at either the 100 or 200 metres.


Personal life

Campbell was a childhood friend of English comedy personality Karl Pilkington, as described in The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts. In a podcast episode, Pilkington claimed to have been responsible for much of Campbell's early training, which mainly involved allowing him to push a go kart that Pilkington sat in.[16] Campbell later thanked Pilkington in a tweet.[17][non-primary source needed]

Campbell guest presented children's TV gameshow Best of Friends in the 'sports special' with Iwan Thomas in 2008. He was a participant in round one of Celebrity MasterChef 2011.

Campbell is also a dog breeder, breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Border Collies, Rottweilers and other breeds.


  1. ^ "Wasps Club News". Wasps RFC. 3 September 2015.
  2. ^ Mike Rowbottom (7 August 2006). "An email conversation with Darren Campbell: 'Athletics mattered to me almost more than life itself'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  3. ^ Olympic Games: 'Gang life nearly killed me - sprinting was my way out', BBC Sport, 15 July 2021
  4. ^ "'Switch sport for Olympics' plea". BBC News. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
  5. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Rob Bagchi (22 February 2012). "50 stunning Olympic moments No15: Great Britain's 2004 relay victory". The Guardian.
  7. ^ "Campbell angry at losing medals". BBC Sport. 14 August 2006.
  8. ^ "Campbell has no regrets over row". BBC Sport. 15 August 2006.
  9. ^ Mackay, Duncan (15 August 2006). "Campbell stands his ground over Chambers relay snub". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 August 2006.
  10. ^ a b "Campbell bows out at Celtic Cup". BBC Sport. 18 August 2006.
  11. ^ Wallace, Sam (26 October 2007). "Chelsea rely on speed king to lift Shevchenko". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 28 November 2007.
  12. ^ "News / Saracens". Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  13. ^ "Premiership Rugby |". Premiershiprugby.com. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  14. ^ "Campbell to speed up Lomu return". BBC Sport. 22 December 2005.
  15. ^ Biographies: Campbell, Darren. Retrieved 3 February 2009.
  16. ^ Ricky Gervais show, season 3 episode 12
  17. ^ "TBT I guess its time for me to thank Karl Pilkington for helping me win Olympic Gold... The microscopic part you played was priceless 😂😁👏🏾 🙌🏾 #karlpilkington #tbt #tbthursday #fun #funtimes #fitness #fitnessjourney". Retrieved 25 January 2021.
Post-War British Olympic Champions in Men's Athletics