Triple Olympic gold medalist and one of Jamaica’s most successful athlete, Veronica Campbell-Brown, has gotten one more award to add to her large collection. This time it is the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from People Profile.
“Being here tonight as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award is as good as gold,” was how a beaming Veronica Campbell Brown viewed her latest accolade, after being recognized last Saturday.
Later, she told Caribbean National Weekly that she was “very happy to be among the great awardees who have been recognized over the years,” and was “very humbled and grateful.” The award is presented to persons with at least 10 years of documented accomplishments in their chosen field. It is considered the pinnacle award by the People Profile organization.
Founder of the awards, Dr Allan Cunningham said that “Veronica as a retired and highly successful athlete was the most fitting choice. The entire board of the People Profile Organization felt that awarding her was the best decision,” he said.
One of the most decorated and respected track and field athlete in the world, Campbell Brown retired from track and field in June, and is now concentrating on her sportswear business and her 2 ½ year old daughter.
Veronica’s Illustrious Career
During her 21-year illustrious career, she won 48 medals including 29 gold, 16 silver and three bronze. Her main disciplines were 200m, 100m, 60m and 4x100m, and covered eleven recognized track meets from the junior level to the Olympics. At the Olympics Veronica took home three gold, three silver and two bronze between 2000 and 2016. Her World Championship achievements included eleven medals outdoor and two 60m indoor golds. Her personal best of 10.76 in the 100m was the leading time in the world in 2011 and placed her at number 11 on list of fastest women ever. In the 200m she achieved a best time of 21.74.
Veronica is only the second woman to ever win back-to-back 200m Olympic titles. She did it at the Athens and Beijing games before her compatriot Elaine Thompson-Herah joined the class at the Tokyo Olympics last month. She is also the first Jamaican to win a global 100m title, first female to win the 100m and 200m at the same World Junior Championships (1999), the first Caribbean female athlete to win a global title (200m), and in 2007 became the first Jamaican to win a global title in the 100m.
The Early Days
Born in Clarks Town, Trelawny less than 30 minutes from the birthplace of Usain Bolt, Veronica attended Vere Technical high school, one of the most successful in Jamaica’s high school track and field championships. Recalling her early days of track and field at the award ceremony, Campbell Brown shared how she embraced her gift of speed, even when she did not have the proper shoes or spikes. “I compete barefooted because I knew that track and field, the gift that God gave me, was an opportunity to rise from my humble beginnings,” she said.
She won a scholarship to Barton County Community College in Kansas, where her 100m and 200m records still stands. She was inducted into Barton’s Hall of Fame in 2005.
But it was at University of Kansas that the petite 5ft 5 inches athlete really made her mark. One of the fastest to ever compete at the NCAA level, she was a four-time All American, representing the Razorback. Her indoor time of 22.43 in the 200m is the current third-fastest ever for division 1 in the NCAA. Campbell Brown was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2020 because of her outstanding contribution to its success.
Lance Harter, her coach at Arkansas said: “To be able to compete at an Olympics is the pinnacle of our sport. To be able to do it repetitively, especially when you were the No. 1 sprinter in the world like Veronica was for a long time, is an incredible achievement.” He continued, “Veronica probably single-handedly put us on the map as far as becoming a program for sprinters. I think we were stereotyped as a program that was heavy in the distances and the field events. Veronica immediately brought us legitimacy and world stature in the sprints.”
Awards and Accolades
In 2009 Veronica was also selected as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO. In December 2015 she was honored by the New York based Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) Inc because she “consistently brought glory to Jamaica.” The Jamaican government honored Veronica with a statue at the national stadium in 2018, ten years after bestowing on her the Commander of the Order of Distinction (CD). Veronica was Jamaica’s Sports Woman of the year in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, and was awarded the Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence in 2012.
Retirement from track and field however, does not mean relaxation for Veronica. She is putting her marketing degree from University of Arkansas to use, in her women sports clothing business. She admitted that she has her hands full especially with her daughter and family.