Campbell-Brown makes Razorback Olympic history

FAYETTEVILLE – Former NCAA national champion for the University of Arkansas Veronica Campbell-Brown will carry the flag for her native Jamaica in the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

The opening ceremonies will air tonight on NBC starting at 6:30 p.m. central time.

She is the first female athlete from Arkansas to receive the honor of carrying her nation’s flag in the opening ceremony.

“That’s the greatest honor that an Olympic athlete can have bestowed upon them by their team,” Arkansas women’s head track and field coach Lance Harter said. “It is your fellow Olympians that have chosen you.”

Campbell-Brown competes in the 200 meters and the 4×100 in Beijing. Her first competition is Tuesday, Aug. 19 in the 200, with opening round of the relay on Thursday, Aug. 21. This is the third Olympics for the multiple medal winner.

“That’s a tribute to all the successes she’s had for herself and to represent her home country three times,” Harter added. “The team recognized that by choosing her.”

Campbell-Brown became the first Razorback women’s Olympic gold medalist in school history at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She was a winner at 200 meters and was also a member of Jamaica’s gold medal-winning 4×100-meter relay team.

She added one more piece of hardware in 2004; bronze at 100 meters. Add these to her silver finish in the 4×100-meter relay in Sydney in 2000, and Campbell-Brown becomes a four-time Olympic medalist and only Razorback woman to ever win multiple gold medals.

Harter departs for Beijing on Monday to coaching former Razorback All-American Christin Wurth-Thomas in the 1,500 meters. Harter is a former Olympian himself, serving as the distance coach for Team USA at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

“Everyone is anxious to watch the opening ceremonies, and now there’s even more motivation to tune in,” he said.

Arkansas has 10 athletes competing in this year’s Olympics. In addition to Harter, current women’s field coach Bryan Compton in China working with his former All-American pole vaulter, April Steiner Bennett.