Olympian received start in Tucumcari

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Amber Campbell got her running start to the Olympics in Tucumcari.

One of America’s elite athletes, Campbell, 27, will compete in Beijing in the women’s hammer throw event.

The women’s hammer is a 4 kilogram (8.8 lbs) steel ball on a 4-foot long wire attached to a metal handle. The athlete tries to throw it as far as he or she can. Campbell’s personal record is 70.33 m or 230′ 6″.

Campbell lived in Tucumcari from 1983 to 1995, she said.

At Tucumcari Middle School she played on the Rattlers’ volleyball, basketball and track and field teams, she recalled.

Her years in Tucumcari “played a key role” in her success today, Campbell said.

“It sparked my love for athletics. There was always something to do, even if it was only kickball in front of the house. There was always a game to participate in. I played softball in the little league team. It sparked my interest.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt that she grew up in a sports family. Her brothers, Brian, Donnie and Mike Jr. were also athletes. Her mom and dad, Mike and Evette Campbell lead the way.

Ellen White, whose son Derek was a Rattler teammate and friend of Mike Campbell, said, “When a family is as athletically inclined as they all were, there is no doubt she would be a fantastic athlete. I am very excited that she is going to the Olympics and I am sure she is well deserving and has worked incredibly hard, because the Campbell family never did anything unless they were giving it 110 percent.”

Amber Campbell said, “My dad played football and wrestled in high school. He also played off and on in softball leagues when he had time.”
Her mother also played on one of Tucumcari’s adult softball leagues, Campbell said.

Patriarch Mike Campbell, who worked for Consolidated Freight in Tucumcari, no longer works for C.F. but owns his own Trucking Company: B-Made Trucking LLC, in Indianapolis where the family moved after Tucumcari, Amber Campbell said.

After her family moved, Campbell graduated from Pike High School where she had become recognized as a shotputter and discus thrower. She was recruited for these skills by Coastal Carolina University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., where she now lives.

“My coach was a hammer thrower and he got me interested in the hammer throw,” Campbell said.

Hammer throwing is not high profile sport and “it wasn’t always a women’s Olympic event. It debuted in 2000,” Campbell said.

And after its introduction at the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Campbell set her sights on the 2004 games.

She nearly made it, but had to take a back seat.

“It was hard,” Campbell said. “But my coach helped me through it.”

Although it’s not a marquee sport, Campbell said she envisions herself competing over the next eight years. And she’s set her sights on competing in 2012 and 2016. “I’ll be 39 that year,” she said.