Campbell is Yorkshire’s last action hero as Hull fighter secures seventh gold for the White Rose
Hull boxer Luke Campbell put a glorious seal on a momentous London 2012 for Yorkshire athletes.
The 24-year-old bantamweight wept tears of joy and disbelief as he won the Olympic gold medal in front of a packed ExCel Arena on Saturday night.
His achievement brought the final number of Olympic champions from Yorkshire to seven.
Of the 54 athletes who represented the county either through birthright, residence or club affiliation, 11 won medals, with cyclist Ed Clancy claiming two.
From Lizzie Armitstead’s silver in the women’s road race on the second day of medal action, to Campbell’s boxing gold on the penultimate day, Yorkshire Olympians can say with pride that they lived up to the London 2012 mantra to ‘Inspire a Generation’.
The county’s final medal haul was seven gold, two silver and three bronze.
More golds than Spain. More titles than Brazil. More Olympic champions than Canada.
And what’s more, the spread of champions cris-crosses the entire county, from Katherine Copeland in the north to Jessica Ennis in the south, Alistair Brownlee in the west to Campbell in the east.
All will be feted by their towns and cities when they start returning from the Olympic bubble today. Post boxes have been redecorated all over the county, and there is even a suggestion that the Humber Bridge will be painted gold in honour of Campbell’s achievement.
His victory was another remarkable chapter in the feelgood story of London 2012, an Olympics that has united a nation in goodwill.
“This gold means everything”, said Campbell, after outpointing Irish opponent John Joe Nevin, 14-11, in a thrilling bantamweight final on Saturday night.
“My family, my city, they’ve all been so supportive of me.
“A lot of my family and friends have seen how much discipline and commitment I’ve put into the sport.
“They’re so proud of me and I’m happy that I’ve made them proud.”
After following in the footsteps of fellow Yorkshire boxer Nicola Adams, who won a historic first gold in women’s boxing on Thursday, Campbell burst into tears, overcome by the emotion of the accomplishment.
“Can’t believe it, I’ve won, that was what was going through my mind,” he said of the moment his name was called out as Olympic champion.
“It’s what I’ve dreamed of for a long, long time and for it to actually be here and to have achieved my goal... I’m lost for words.
“I didn’t want to think too much about the gold as I progressed through the tournament.
“I had a job at hand to do, I knew I had a lot of hard work to go through to get that.
“I was just trying to focus because it’s been a long two weeks and it feels like it’s put three years on me,”
The natural progression for an Olympic boxing medallist is to cash in on his overnight fame by turning professional.
Audley Harrison, Amir Khan and James DeGale have all done so in the aftermath of the last three Olympics, to varying degrees of success.
Campbell, whose accomplishment is given perspective by the fact his brother serves in the army, intends to take his time before deciding what his future holds.
“Your guess is as good as mine. I really have no idea,” said Campbell, who was roared to success by around three dozen family and friends at the ExCel while his two-year-old son Leo watched from home.
“My goal all my life was to achieve an Olympic gold medal.
“Now I’ve done that, it’s about spending some quality time with my family and relaxing. There’s no plans whatsoever.”
He has already been advised by one member of the Great Britain coaching team, Paul Walmsley, to continue in the amateur game.
“He can only get better and there’s no reason to think he won’t be here for Rio in 2016,” said Walmsley. “Between now and Brazil he’ll have two world championships, two European championships and a Commonwealth Games.
“There’s a lot of reasons for him to stay.”
He was fulsome in his praise of the young Yorkshireman’s work-rate, which has come to be the embodiment of what makes a champion at London 2012.
Walmsley said: “He’s come through the ranks, he’s learned the game and he deserves to stand on the top step of the podium.
“Luke is so determined, and focused, knows what he wants and always gives 100 per cent. He’s reaping his rewards and deservedly so.”
Campbell’s win came amid another memorable Saturday night of Olympic action for the British team.
Mo Farah staked his claim for performer of the Games when he won the 5,000m title to become the first man since Finland’s Lasse Viren in 1976 to win both the long-distance races on the track.
And Tom Daley, for so long the poster boy for the British Olympic team, saved his best performance of the Games for the biggest stage as he won a thrilling bronze medal in diving’s individual 10m platform competition.
Almost 16 million people tuned in to watch Daley fulfil his dream of earning an Olympic medal while close to 13 million were glued to the TV as Farah created history with his stunning victory in the athletics stadium.
But, if this has been a breakthrough Games for Yorkshire competitors, and a mightily successful one for the home nation who finished third on the medals table, it was again an Olympics blessed by the greatest sprinter of all time.
Jamaican Usain Bolt shook the sporting world to its very core four years ago in Beijing when he won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles.
In London, the biggest name in the sport matched all three of those achievements to write his name into Olympic lore and to headline an utterly staggering two-and-a-half weeks of sport.
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Weather for Yorkshire
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 10 C
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Wind direction: North west
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