There are few opponents who will psych-out the sport psychologists however Jane Campbell gets the capability to create even the experts in motivation and mind games flounder. Every time a sports psychologist was sent for a regular trip to the handicapped ping pong player recently, he returned by Campbell's detailed knowledge of the psychological attitudes required to be successful in sport.
This is a 37-year-old woman in a wheelchair that only four years back wrote down getting a Paralympian, jointly with two other 'Ps' - buying property and attaining promotion - because her three aims in life in a class for her job as a market research manager. In the time Campbell, who has a masters degree in psychology, appreciated ping pong socially but was far fr om being an elite athlete. She admits it was a "crazy target" at the moment. However, the Wapping-based player was convinced by the people running the path that she could attain all three aims.
Now - the land has been bought, the advertising attained and Campbell is heading confidently towards a spot in Britain's team for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Campbell's natural talent was recognised and she's been " fasttracked" by Lottery cash distributor UK Sport. Now she's put herself the long-term goal of winning gold at the 2012 London Paralympics.
The first major step on how is that the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Listening to Campbell talk as she prepares for her first look at a multi-sports occasion, you soon start thinking she'll go all of the way to a gold trophy in her own backyard in Stratford in the age of 44.
This remarkable transformation, involving age 33 and 37, from a hobby participant to an elite actor has been fuelled by Campbell's passion for reading books on motivation. She said: "They told me on the path in 2002 that if you can conceive-a goal, you can achieve it. I thought: 'Right, I'm going to give it a go.' Long term I'm rather confident that I will be eligible for London. I am hoping to win a trophy by then. To win gold would be fantastic. There would be nothing better than that."
Soon following the course Campbell started working with trainer Simon Rockall, who immediately recognised her natural ability and mental toughness. Campbell, a fervent horse rider before she became disabled in a car crash in South Africa in the age of 15, devours books on inspiration like the rest people read novels. She usually has one on the go in between weekends which are dominated by matches and training with ping pong table.
She was particularly inspired by Steve Redgrave's story of overcoming health issues to win a record five Olympic gold medals. However, Campbell has also picked up tips from books about training in the army and from guides about attaining success in different fields.
She explained: "I was impressed by Redgrave's single-mindedness. He persevered-through all of the obstacles and the health problems. I'd like to have the identical focus and dedication. "If the sport psychologist came to see me, he inquired about the five important factors which are important for athletic achievement. I gave him and that he looked at me and said: 'Nobody usually answers that question correctly'."
Campbell, who is based at the Ellenborough Club at Enfield, has no immediate cash from the Lottery but from April last year she's received "fasttrack" providers, like funds for taking part in competitions and training camps.
She has maintained her fulltime job at market research firm TNS, which has allowed her extra time off to the Commonwealth Games. Despite the Lottery funding, she still needs to find [pounds sterling]360 a month for private training and [pounds sterling]60 for equipment, as her sponsorship deal with ping pong firm Butterfly does not cover the entire cost of bats.
She trains once during the working week but a lot of her intensive work is at weekends, when she travels each fortnight to competitions or training camps. Success in Melbourne ought to help her move up to the next level of financing.
Paralympians are somewhat slightly older compared to competitors at the Olympics and it wouldn't be that unusual for a 44-year-old to top the podium at 2012.
She got excited about the prospect of a London Paralympics when she made a part of a demonstration ping pong event in the ExCel indoor center as soon as the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission visited the funding in February 2005 during the bidding process.
When the news came through on 6 July a year ago that London had won, she was ecstatic. She said: "I can't not be there. It is so near wh ere I live, I could almost remain at home rather than at the village. Then I find top ping pong table" Though she's much older than some of the additional Commonwealth Games debutants, Campbell admits to still suffer from nerves - but she already has a strategy to deal with this latest barrier.
She explained: "I am going to work on which I call 'procedure' together with the nerves. You focus on one point at a time and there's absolutely no time to become nervous. But I have to say when I transferred in the athletes village another day I found it difficult to believe some of the world's best athletes were sitting at the next table. "To think I am going to represent my nation gives me a tingling feeling, I can't think it. I think the luckiest person in the world."
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