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Campbell eyes big prize

Luke Campbell
Campbell became England's first European amateur champion for 47 years, 12 months ago (pic Peter Byrne)

By Nabil Hassan

The past 12 months have been anything but predictable for 2012 Olympic medal hope Luke Campbell.

This time last year, the Hull-based bantamweight was making history at the European Championships in Liverpool by becoming the first Englishman since Frankie Taylor 47 years ago to win gold at the amateur tournament.

During that near half-century, British trio David Haye, Carl Froch and Amir Khan, all world champions, had all tried and failed to land the title.

Since then more accolades have followed for the 21-year-old. He represented Great Britain at the World Championships in Milan and was voted young boxer of the year by the British Boxing Writers' association.

But a serious hand injury that requires surgery has forced him out of action - not that the southpaw intends being out the spotlight for long.

Luke Campbell

Campbell earns historic title win

"I've proved I'm the best in Europe and now I want to do it again and go on and become the best in the world," Campbell told BBC Sport.

"The feeling you get when your arm is lifted as winner is indescribable. It doesn't really sink in immediately, but when it does, it's an amazing feeling.

"No matter how far I go in boxing, I've always got that to look back on and what an achievement it is."

Having made history with England, Campbell is now desperate to make his mark on a larger stage.

Having missed out on selection to last year's Olympic Games - with Joe Murray picked in his place - he is determined to play a full part at London 2012.

"Missing out on Beijing has made me more determined and has also given me an extra four years to improve and get prepared for London," said Campbell.

"Hopefully I'll peak at the right time, get selected and go and get a medal. I want the gold."

Campbell is under no illusions how big a task he faces to first make the GB team for London 2012 - he is, after all, the man everyone wants to beat.

But with Campbell named in GB's podium squad he is in pole position and has no intention of letting his place slip.

Luke Campbell
Luke Campbell is currently recovering from a hand injury

"London 2012 will be the pinnacle, it will be overwhelming," he said.

"When you look back in 50 years time it will be there that you represented Great Britain at your home Olympics and what an achievement that would be. What an honour."

It would certainly complete a remarkable rise for someone who took up boxing at 13 and promptly lost his first two fights.

Joining his brother Kane at Hull's Fish Trades gym and later at St Paul's, Campbell quickly progressed from one visit a week to the point where he was at the gym more often than not.

"I made a lot of sacrifices growing up, sacrifices a normal kid of my age wouldn't normally be making," he said.

"I had to watch what I ate and couldn't go out playing. You had to act like a little goody two shoes really. It was difficult but now I'm pleased how selfish I was."

A first breakthrough came with winning the 'Boys Club final', which led to an invite to box at an England selection camp. After impressing there he was soon representing his country at the Four Nations tournament… which he duly won.

Since then he has been a regular for England, his victory in Liverpool last year cementing his place in the team, but uninterrupted progress was finally halted by the tendon injury to his left hand sustained during a training camp in Kazakhstan.

"I want to get moving as soon as possible," admits Campbell.

Life is not a bed of roses, it has its ups and down and is tough. You have to work hard and make them sacrifices to get to the top and stay there

Luke Campbell

"It's been frustrating, boxers just want to box and I want to start punching again. I still can't clench my fist, it's quite a serious. I honestly don't know when I'll be back."

Campbell knows he is going to have to train hard to get back to the boxer that made history 12 months ago. But no-one is more determined than him.

"It's about how important it is to you," he explains. "You are doing it for yourself at the end of the day. You are making sacrifices because you want to better yourself in boxing.

"You want to go as far as you can so you have to make sacrifices.

"But life has its ups and down and is tough. You have to work hard and make them sacrifices to get to the top and stay there."

see also
Campbell earns historic title win
15 Nov 08 |  Boxing
Angry Murray to quit amateur game
09 Nov 08 |  Boxing
Amateur boxing explained
01 Mar 06 |  Boxing

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