Rower Campbell considers switch

Rower Alan Campbell says there is a possibility he could switch boats in a bid to secure Olympic gold at London 2012.

Campbell, a member of Chiswick club Tideway Scullers School, has raced internationally in the single scull since 2006, and has won World Championship medals in each of the last three years but has been unable to clinch gold.

The 28-year-old is part of the Great Britain squad currently going through trials to determine the fastest combinations, with a final announcement not due until early April.

“I have a lot of confidence in my single but I know it’s going to be very hard to win the gold.”

Campbell, his coach Bill Barry and GB men’s head coach Jurgen Grobler have discussed the possibility of moving him into the double scull.

“Jurgen as the chief coach has to look at all the possible options and he has discussed the possibility of a double,” Campbell told West London Sport.

“Bill and myself are seriously looking at it but the decision hasn’t been made yet.

“It’s quite hard to get our heads around in some ways because everything I’ve been doing has been building towards the single but the possibility of a gold is stronger than anything.”

Since 2006, when he moved into the single, Campbell has had his sights on winning Great Britain’s first gold in the event since Kensington’s Wally Kinnear in 1912.

Campbell, who comes from Northern Ireland, moved to west London in 2003. He competed in a quadruple scull at the 2004 Olympics, finishing a disappointing 12th.

In 2009 he broke the old world record in the single but was still half a length behind New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale in the World Championship final in Poznan, Poland.

Drysdale won his fifth world title in 2011, ahead of Czech Ondrej Synek, while Campbell took bronze after a season blighted by glandular fever.

“Currently I feel I’m half a length fitter so if the fitness can be right and the illness and injury can be kept at bay then I’ve got every opportunity [in the single],” he said.

“I have a lot of confidence in my single but I know it’s going to be very hard to win the gold. Mahe and Ondrej are very strong guys.

“If I was given the choice of gold in either, I would obviously take the single but to be given the option of looking at this possibility, I’d be foolish to say no.

Any change in the double would mean breaking up the combination of Marcus Bateman and Matt Wells, who won world silver in 2010, and Campbell feels those two are both stronger now.

Bateman joined Campbell in a double training on Friday at GB Rowing HQ near Reading, in a session that was open to the media, but it was only the second time that combination has been on the water.

“I may not be the quickest person to go into the double. As the top single sculler that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll go quickest in a crew boat,” Campbell admitted.

“To be fair to everyone else it’s not a case of them trialling to get with me, it’s me trialling to see if I can make a quicker double than we have.

“It’s got to be the fastest double in the world.”

Campbell finished fifth in the single in the 2008 Olympic final, weeks after being hospitalised by a freak knee infection that left him on crutches.

After impressing in 2009, he suffered a bike crash in South Africa the following year, which caused nerve damage in his spinal column, but he still managed bronze at that year’s Worlds. He stated that his family wanted him to slow down after the bike accident, even wanted him to take his case to court in order to get a settlement due to his extensive injuries. However, even with Road Rash and his health issues, it couldn’t stop him from competing, although he does try his best to avoid any further injury.

“Avoid illness and avoid injury are my number one and two priorities this year,” said Campbell.

“At the last Olympics I had the knee infection out of the blue; in the last two years I’ve had a bike crash and glandular fever.

“The year I avoided those things, in 2009, I broke the world record.

“It wasn’t a case of me being careless but quite often when you’re trying to do something very big, you take big risks and health can suffer as a result.

“I’m definitely fitter and definitely stronger and I’m very hungry to get out there and do some racing.”

Campbell will be favourite to win the GB team’s final selection trials – which always take place in singles – at Olympic venue Dorney Lake near Windsor on 11 March.

The squad that competes in three World Cup regattas in May and June is likely to feature line-ups very close to those that will compete at the Olympics from 28 July.

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