Veronica Campbell-Brown: Double-Winner at 200 Meters

Veronica Campbell-Brown wins the 2008 Olympic 200-meter final. Stu Forster/Getty Images

Before 2004, only one Jamaican man – and no women – had earned an Olympic gold medal in a 100- or 200-meter race. Beginning with the 2004 Sydney Games, however, Jamaican victories became commonplace – and it all started with Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Food Runs

As a child, Campbell-Brown’s natural speed was put to good use, as her mother often sent young Veronica dashing to the nearby grocery store to pick up last-minute items for various meals. “It wasn’t very far,” Campbell-Brown explained, “and, if my mum sent me to get some eggs for breakfast, she could put the fat on the fire and know I would be back in time before it burned out. So I have been running from a very tender age.”

When applied to the track, Campbell-Brown’s speed soon brought her international acclaim. She won the 100-meter gold medal at the 1999 World Youth Championships, then in 2000 she became the first woman to turn the sprint double at the World Junior Championships, winning both the 100- and 200-meter events.

Studying and Sprinting

In addition to sprinting, Campbell-Brown was also interested in her education, which she pursued in the United States, beginning at Barton County College in Kansas. She then moved on to the University of Arkansas, partly because her future husband, Omar Brown, was interested in the school, and party because she liked Arkansas’ business program. She won the 2004 NCAA indoor 200-meter championship, and graduated from the school in 2006, by which time she was a professional sprinter.

Relay Recognition

Campbell-Brown made her Olympic debut at age 18 in 2000 – less than three weeks before the World Junior Championships – as part of Jamaica’s 4 x 100-meter relay squad. She ran the second leg in both heats and in the final, helping Jamaica win the silver medal in 42.13 seconds, trailing only the victorious Bahamas. Campbell-Brown anchored Jamaica’s Olympic gold medal-winning squad in 2008, which finished in a then-national record 41.73 seconds. She ran the third leg in London in 2012, when Jamaica set another national mark of 41.41, but had to settle for the silver behind the United States’ world-record performance of 40.82.

Campbell-Brown also won 4 x 100-meter silver medals at the 2005, 2007 and 2011 World Championships. At the 2015 World Relays, she earned a gold medal in the 4 x 100 and a silver in the 4 x 200.

Double Gold

At the 2004 Olympics, Campbell-Brown gained a bronze medal in the 100, but struck gold in the 200. She ran a career best 22.13 in the semifinal, then lowered her personal best again with a winning time of 22.05 in the final, edging Allyson Felix by 0.13 seconds. Felix was favored in the 200 at the 2008 Games, but Campbell-Brown – running one lane inside of Felix in the final – started fast and defended her title in a personal best 21.74, beating Felix by 0.19 seconds. Felix finally turned the tables to win in 2012, with Campbell-Brown fading down the stretch to finish fourth. Campbell-Brown also gained another 100-meter Olympic bronze medal in London.

World Championships

Surprisingly, through 2013 Campbell-Brown had only won a single World Championship 200-meter gold, in 2011. She also took silver medals in 2007 and 2009. She gained her first World Championship individual gold medal in the 100 meters, in 2007. Campbell-Brown and American Lauryn Williams both finished in 11.01 seconds and a photo was, literally, needed to determine that Campbell-Brown had edged Williams for the gold medal. The Jamaican also gained 100-meter silvers at the 2005 and 2011 World Championships. Campbell-Brown won 60-meter titles at the 2010 and 2012 World Indoor Championships.

Missing Moscow

Campbell-Brown tested positive for a banned substance in May 2013 – a diuretic, which isn’t performance enhancing but is a potential masking agent. After an investigation, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association gave her a warning in October, saying she didn't use the substance for performance enhancement, even though she did commit a technical violation. Nevertheless, the IAAF then imposed a 2-year ban, but Campbell-Brown appealed successfully to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The CAS overturned the suspension due to initial failures in collection procedures and possible contamination of Campbell-Brown’s drug-testing sample. Campbell-Brown was forced to miss the 2013 Moscow World Championships while these details were sorted out.

The stats:

  • Height: 5 feet, 5 inches
  • Weight: 134 pounds
  • Birth date: May 5, 1982
  • Hometown: Trelawny Parish, Jamaica
  • Personal bests: 7.00 (indoor 60 meters); 10.76 (100 meters); 21.74 (200 meters)