Olympic dream

CARLUKE could have a representative at this year's biggest sporting event, the Olympic Games.

Javelin kid James Campbell is desperate to qualify for next month's Beijing showpiece, which will be enjoyed by millions of TV viewers around the world.

James (20), of Springfield Farm, Yieldshields Road, said: "If I qualified for the Olympics I would do 20 laps of honour.

"Getting to Beijing is the ultimate ambition I have."

To book his spot in the Great Britain team, James will have to throw at least 77.8m in a AAA qualifying competition at Birmingham this Saturday July 12.

For a man with a personal best throw of 73.7m (the Scottish record), reaching the qualifying mark will be tough. But James, who stands 6ft 1'' tall and weighs 13 stones, is optimistic.

He said: "My personal best isn't a reflection of where I'm at. I'm practising hard just now. Hopefully by the time the AAAs comes round I will surprise a few people by showing what I can really do.

"It is a really big event for me, but I'm capable of throwing 77.8m.

"There will be a lot of pressure on everyone competing. If nobody throws 77.8m or over, then nobody goes to Beijing.

"If that happened, it would be the first time in a number of years that no British man qualified for the Olympic javelin event."

James was born in Cheltenham but is registered as a Scottish athlete as his dad Eddie was born in Glasgow. The youngster and his family moved to Carluke in July 2006, as Eddie got a job in Glasgow.

Recent months have been frustrating for James, including his latest competitive outing at the Bank of Scotland Cup in Grangemouth last Monday night.

Although the Carluke kid won the event with a throw of 70.14m, he was far from happy with his performance.

"Technically it was shocking," he said.

"It was really frustrating. I've got a real technique problem with my left leg as I'm throwing the javelin, which is taking a massive chunk of distance off. I try and hit my legs and they don't bend. The javelin drags, going down instead of up.

"That's a pity, because the top half of my body is great. But there's a limit as to how far that can take you.

"I'll have to work on my technique with my coach Mick Hill. I'll be training 20 hours a week."

Mick coaches James at Leeds Metropolitan University, where the 20-year-old is studying for a Physical Education degree.

James is currently ranked Britain's number one male under-23 javelin thrower. He is fourth in the British men's overall list.

Two of his heroes are British javelin great Steve Backley and world record holding Czech Jan Zelezny, a three-time Olympic champ who has thrown the javelin over 98m.

"Steve Backley was my idol," James said.

"He wasn't the greatest athlete in the world, but got the absolute maximum out of what he could do. He had great technical knowledge and thoroughly understood the javelin event.

"In 2005 I got a bit of coaching from Steve, which I found very beneficial.

"I met Jan at the European Juniors in Hengelo, Holland, last year. I was in a room with a group of competitors and couldn't believe it when he walked in.

"He shuffles when he walks. It is unbelievable what he has done in the sport.

"He was to javelin throwing what Roger Federer is to tennis and Tiger Woods is to golf.

''His technique was ridiculous. He had the fastest leg and arm and that is what you need.

"Jan is a hero of mine and would be one of my ideal dinner guests."

Javelin throwing isn't the only sport which James has excelled at. As a youngster, he was also a very talented footballer.

In his early teens, James played for the Cheltenham Town youth team. Then came the excitement of a trial at Chelsea!

"In the trial game, I remember it was a thrill tackling Roberto Di Matteo (former Italian international) who coached the Chelsea youth team.

"During the game I chipped the big Belgian goalkeeper Yves Ma Kalambay (currently with Hibs) from the edge of the box and the ball hit the bar."

James's mum Linda is understandably proud of her son's sporting prowess.

She said: "He's come from being a lad trying out javelin at the school sports in 2001 to being the Scottish record holder.

"He has done exceptionally well."

And hopefully James's career will continue its upward spiral in Birmingham this weekend.

James was recently selected to receive a 500 award from the SportsAid Trust through their partnership with Asda. If you would like to sponsor James, contact him on 07792 024231.