May 2022 Volume 18

An Interview with Trevor “TC” Campbell

Dr. Cedric Lazarus
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This is another in a series of interviews of outstanding past KC student/athletes by Dr Cedric Lazarus. So far, he has interviewed Balford ‘Bally’ Reid and Dr. Noel Gray, and for this edition of our newsletter he interviewed Trevor ‘TC’ Campbell, the most outstanding male athlete at Champs up to this day.

CL: Which primary school did you attend and did you do much track in primary school?

TC: I attended Alpha Infant and Primary school. No, I did not compete in sports at Alpha. The school did not have an athletic program.

CL: When did you know that you had a rare talent for fast running?

TC: I discovered that I had some talent competing at the All Island Boys Scout Sports Day just prior to attending K.C. I won the 60 and 80 yards sprint. I never thought about it in terms of “rare”.

CL: Were your parents and family supportive?

TC: My entire family was very supportive. My mother was always at champs, along with my uncle `Jim` who was my biggest supporter. My grandmother never came to see me compete in anything but she believed in her blend of stout and egg power drink and made sure it was available on special occasions.

CL: Do you remember your first big race at KC? Was it at Sports Day?

TC: My first big race at KC was my first. Senior members of the track team visited the Melbourne campus to identify class three talent. I was drawn in a race with Kirk Douglas and was beaten. What made it special was the vow I took after the run; that if I was to compete in track and field I would never run behind anybody again because I was not pleased with the dirt I had to eat every time Kirk landed and push off in his stride pattern.

CL: Who were your biggest competitors at KC over the years? Did you ever lose a race at KC's sports day? If so, do you remember who beat you?

TC: I came second to last in the 100 yards on my first Sports Day. I suffered a bout with pneumonia and was only back at training one week. Once I got to class two I more or less had things my way. Not because I was so good but more importantly by then I had adopted a hard work policy.

CL: Which year did you first go to Champs and what events did you win?

TC: I was fortunate to make the winning, record breaking, class three 4x110 yards relay team in 1968. That was all I could do coming back from illness in ‘68.

CL: You never lost a race at Champs and you have an abundance of gold medals. How many gold medals do you have from Champs? Are you still the most decorated athlete in the history of Champs?

TC: It is true that I never lost an individual race but I did run on a few losing relay teams. I won the 400 /800 double in class 2 twice and repeated the same in my first year in class one before winning the 200, 400 and 800 meters in the final year in 1972. I believe I am still the record holder for most points contributed overall.

CL: What motivated you to do so well for KC and who were your coaches over your KC years?

TC: The motivation came from multiple sources. The first was that pledge I referred to earlier. The second came as a result of my interpretation of what I was experiencing at the time. The school had a bounty of talent both in the classroom and on the field and I saw those outstanding students as protectors of the school`s reputation at a time when we were, in the minds of many, considered to be the worst school on the island in terms of discipline; anything negative that could be linked to the college was celebrated by some. In football the school was blessed with the extraordinary talent of Howie Bell, in table tennis there was Glen Bowlin and in cricket, Michael Holding; I was considered the track and field guardian. Finally, there was a synergy within the school community, and the wider community, the Old Boys and the administration led by a headmaster who was second to none. Dougs understood young men and treated us as such. Howard Aris was my main coach but I was also very fortunate to work with Rupert Hoilette in my two final seasons.

CL: While running in the stadium could you hear the "TC, TC, TC" chants from the KC supporters in the stands? How did it make you feel?

TC: Yes, I heard the chants at times but those were the moments that I knew I was not at my best in terms of good concentration and would quickly make the necessary adjustments to return to that other zone during which I am not hearing nor visually focusing on anything outside of the job at hand.

CL: Who were your biggest competitors at Champs over the years?

TC: This question is difficult to answer. So allow me to approach it in terms of the races that I believe were the most important and the ones that stood out to me. There were in my mind two that fall in that category - the 440 yards final in my first year in class two where there was an upset win over teammate David Henry and Guy from Wolmer’s. And then there was my first year class one 400m final with Seymour Newman, another Wolmerian. My final year in 1972 was the one I enjoyed the most as I won the triple (200, 400 and 800) then brought my team back to win in the sprint relay; that was more than anyone could bargain for.

CL: You also played on a winning Manning Cup team for KC with Howie Bell et al. Which did you prefer though, track or football and why?

TC: Track and field interrupted my football career. The game is still my favorite sport. Both worked well together for a while until I dislocated the elbow on my left hand playing Sunday morning football. Both disciplines assisted in keeping me in shape but because of the injury and the looming possibility of making the JA Olympic team in 1972 headmaster Douglas Forrest enforced a ban on my playing football, including Manning Cup.

CL: After KC where did you go to college? Did you play any football in college or was it only track?

TC: I received a full scholarship to the University of Southern California where I represented the institution in football (soccer) for one season unknown to the track coaches. In other words, I had to hide and play!

CL: What was your track career like at college?

TC: My collegiate career was plagued with injuries. I ran a couple of low 46 seconds in the 400m from the blocks but did better on the relays posting a number of low 45 seconds and a high 44 seconds split on one occasion. We had a 45 second runner from the blocks in the quarter mile but the coach would trust me to run the anchor leg on the relays. That 4x400 team held the school record for a number of years. Our team was voted the best dual meet team in the NCAA in 1976, we also won the national title that year.

CL: Did you represent JA while at university or after?

TC: Yes, I represented Jamaica on several occasions while at college including at the CAC Games, The Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games.

CL: Did you represent Jamaica or had plans to represent at the Olympics?

TC: I was fortunate to make the 1972 team to the Munich Olympic Games in Germany. I ran the second leg on the 4x400 meters relay. We only made it to semifinal round which was a disappointment considering that we had the fourth fastest time going into the event.

CL: What was your field of study at university?

TC: I majored in journalism with a minor in public relations.

CL: 17. What did you do after university?

TC: I l ived in Los Angeles, California, for a number of years after university working in the legal field doing case research and legal document court management.

CL: 18. When did you return to Jamaica?

TC: I came home in 1991 I believe.

19. I know that you were involved with the JAAA/ISSA for many years. Are you still involved with them?

TC: I am now a former member of the JAAA executive after serving for 16 years. However, I will serve as meet manager for this year`s Carifta Games - as you might be aware Jamaica is the host country.

CL: Where do you see the future of track and field in Ja? Will the male athletes ever get back to the glory days of Bolt et al?

TC: There is an abundance of talent in Jamaica and the athletes are very fortunate to have good, qualified coaches at all levels. We will have other world beaters in the future. Will we have another Bolt? Maybe not in our lifetime. But as you know everything happens in cycles and therefore we must be patient.

CL: What advice do you have for young athletes at KC and other schools today?

TC: My advice to young athletes is that hard work pays and preparation is everything, but positive result will only manifest itself if you take care of your body, eat right and get your proper rest to allow the body to recover.

CL: Thank you TC, you are truly a KC icon.

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