Campbell's taunt to Jackson and critics: 'I've got a gold'

The words were uttered by Darren Campbell with a smugness that bordered on downright insolence. Yet could you blame him for that indulgence at the remarkable finale of a week which has been too often tainted by dissent among the male track brotherhood? "I've got one message for Colin Jackson," the Great Britain team captain declared. "I've got a gold medal."

The words were uttered by Darren Campbell with a smugness that bordered on downright insolence. Yet could you blame him for that indulgence at the remarkable finale of a week which has been too often tainted by dissent among the male track brotherhood? "I've got one message for Colin Jackson," the Great Britain team captain declared. "I've got a gold medal."

The item he referred to, of course, was an Olympic gold for the 4 x 100m relay, the product of a superbly resourceful, tenacious series of legs run by Campbell and his team-mates, Jason Gardener, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis. They were men driven as much by the words denigrating them as the physical challenge of the USA quartet.

It all culminated in a thrilling drive to the line in which Lewis-Francis maintained the narrowest of advantages, despite the looming presence of Maurice Greene bearing down on him. The reward for victory was one that could not have been more piquant for those involved: an Olympic gold, something Jackson never secured in his otherwise distinguished career.

Earlier in the week, Jackson had succeeded in grievously wounding Campbell by suggesting, in his Independent column, that all Great Britain's male athletes had collected here was "a locker room of injuries" and demanding to know "just where are all the medals?" And there was worse, as the former world-champion hurdler maintained: "We can say with reasonable confidence that there are no medals coming from Darren's 200m event, or the relays." Jackson was proved correct about the 200m. Nobody imagined, for a second, that he would get it so wrong about these athletes who individually may have under-achieved but together fused into an irresistible combination. In doing so, they became the first British sprint relay team since 1912 to triumph in a global championships.

Whether there was an element of sheer provocation for effect, or telling it precisely as the retired world champion hurdler, television pundit and columnist viewed it, his words could not have galvanised the men who have been the butt of his criticism any better.

The quartet prevailed by only one hundredth of a second, barely a vest's thickness, as Lewis-Francis ducked on the line to repel Greene. Yet, it was sufficient to provide the most gratifying of responses to critics of the Britain's male sprinters, who had included not only Jackson but his fellow BBC pundit Michael Johnson, with whom Campbell had been involved in a confrontation in an Athens nightclub over his televised observations.

Jackson and Johnson very definitely had a point - until last night. This was the first Olympics in which Britain had not had a representative in the 100m final since 1980. Somewhat embarrassingly, the country had no presence in the 200m final either. Yet, the quartet's achievement was more than atonement for that failure. It also compensated for the disappointment of last year's World Championships in Paris when the men won silver but lost their medals because Dwain Chambers tested positive for a banned substance.

It was Gardener who set off on the first leg, but he appeared to be down as he handed the baton on to Campbell. Somehow the Sydney 200m silver medallist, who has complained of a hamstring injury all week, made up ground before passing on to Devonish. The 30-year-old from Manchester produced a phenomenal third leg and the baton change was near-perfect, allowing Lewis-Francis to drive home, leaving the American "dream team" of Shawn Crawford, Justin Gatlin, Coby Miller and Greene utterly bemused.

As Campbell acknowledged, and you could comprehend precisely why: "It has been the most emotionally stressful week of my life."

For the stoic supporters within British enclaves here, it was the most emotionally draining moment of their week. Until last night, their appreciation had been mainly reserved for heptathlete Kelly Sotherton's bronze, and that was about it, really. Apart, of course, from Kelly Holmes.

Indeed, thank heavens for Holmes, in whose honour they raised the Union flag for the second occasion this week, a spectacle which, after Paula Radcliffe's capitulation on Sunday, no one with British affliliations truly expected to witness.

Yet, as we watched that ceremony, with Holmes, draped in the old flag, quivering with the emotion of her moment, we scarcely dared contemplate that it would be repeated. The fact that it was by the relay quartet entitles you to hope and believe that the name of Radcliffe, and her demons, will not be the first words on the lips of anyone with a love for British sport when Athens 2004 is broached in the months and years to come.

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits