QUEENS, New York: VERONICA Campbell-Brown believes the way she finished last season has provided the perfect launch pad for next year. The outstanding Jamaica female sprinter had low performances as she struggled with uncharacteristic poor form leading into the World Championships, in what she described as her ‘most challenging year’. However, cometh the hour, cometh the woman and at the World Championships in Beijing, China, Campbell-Brown – with personal best times of 10.76 for the 100 metres and 21.74 over 200m – ran herself into form and took bronze in the 200m final and gold on the Jamaican sprint relay team. Also, she narrowly missed out on a medal in the 100 metres by placing fourth. “2015 was my most challenging season, not in terms of lack of medals,” she told The Gleaner in an interview in New York on Friday. “My programme was on point. My programme was well designed, but my body … I experienced some weird stuff and it set me back couple months well. As a result, I was not able to run my races properly and I did not get a break in the way my body was feeling until about three weeks before the World Championships, and so I’m thankful for the results.” The 33-year-old flew up to the Big Apple where she was presented with the Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) Humanitarian Award at its yearly function on Saturday night at the JFK Hilton Hotel in Queen’s. Campbell-Brown, a battle-hard competitor, said her strong-willed personality played a major part in her bronze-medal success at the World Championships last summer. “It’s all about mental toughness; I stayed strong, I stayed positive and I went into that final with the mindset to win. I just ran like I was crazy from the gun. If I didn’t do that, I would not have got a medal,” the former Vere Technical standout said. “The 100 metres wasn’t bad either. I think it set me up for the 200 metres. I felt good. I felt like myself in the 100-metre semis, but in the final, I was a little off. But overall, it was a decent championship for me, not what I’m used to. It may seem like an underperformance, but I do understand there were factors that contributed to that, so, at the end of the day, I have to be pleased with what I achieved.” Asked how much mental toughness has enabled her success, the sprinter, popularly known as ‘VCB’, said: “I think it plays a very huge part. Training is hard, but you’ve to be mentally tough every day to get through the workouts; and then competition is tough. “Over the years, I’ve learnt that if I keep my mind clean and clear and just focus on me and not worry about what’s going on around me, don’t focus on the workload, don’t focus on the competition, as long as I can do that and keep positive and believe in God and my ability, those are the things that get me through. So, no matter how I go into a race, I don’t feel like I’m not able to win; I go into every race believing that I’m as good as everybody in the field and that is important,” the 17-time Olympic and World Championship medallist underlined. Next year will be the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and VCB says she’s in a good place. “I feel like 2015 set me up for 2016. I feel like I ended my season on a decent note and it has set me up quite well for 2016. And I know that my main thing is to ensure that I stay healthy. As long as I don’t miss a bulk of training sessions, I should be in a good place to be in Rio,” she said. “The competition is great because when I look at my 200m from Beijing, running 21.9 from lane two was quite impressive. I wonder what would I do if I was in a better lane. So it gives me hope for what I can do in 2016.” Competition will be tough for medals, with countrywomen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson, Natasha Morrison and Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers all displaying good form last season. The Americans who were off, are also expected to challenge as well. “I’m not focusing on my competitors. I’m focusing on what I have to do. I know that there are a lot of talented girls that I have to compete against and it helps me to make sure that I stay motivated and keep working hard, and if everything goes well I’m expecting great results in Rio, as long as I make the team; and I’m trusting God that I will make the team,” Campbell-Brown said. At this point, she is undecided about when she’ll start competing next year. “I’m still thinking about that,” she said. “I’m not sure if I’m going to do indoors. If not indoors, then it’d be in March.” MENTAL TOUGHNESS
In the face of widespread criticism of the state-owned Guyana National Newspapers Limited’s (GNNL’s) decision to discontinue publication of articles from columnists Dr. David Hinds and Trade Unionist Lincoln Lewis, Government Spokesperson, State Minister Joseph Harmon, on Thursday denied that any directive had been issued from the Executive level of Government to discontinue the columns of the two commentators, who have been outspokenly critical of the Coalition Administration.He has directed questions regarding the source of the decision to the Board of theDr David HindsGuyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL).That board held a meeting on Saturday, and in a statement issued thereafter, said a decision was taken to refer the issue to a fully constituted board, which was scheduled to meet last Tuesday, during which a policy decision on the general direction of the content of the paper would be determined.However, asked whether there was, in regard to these columnists’ writings, any political discomfort on part of Government or sections of the administration, Minister Harmon said, “I won’t be able to say. You know we’ve always encouraged freedom of the press, free expressions and so on. So, certainly, from my part, I‘ve never had a discomfort. In fact, I welcome those types of criticisms, because (they make) you better and stronger; and I’ve, on so many occasions, responded to them.”Further probed as to whether there was any discomfort from his colleagues in theTrade unionist Lincoln LewisExecutive, the State Minister added, “I can’t say about that, because it was never a matter of policy discussed. There may have been some persons who might have been uncomfortable, but I cannot say specifically whether there’re persons who were actually at discomfort about it.”Questioned as to whether the Executive would, without interfering with the autonomy of the newspaper, suggest that the publication of articles from the columnists be restored, the Government’s spokesman outlined that that decision is a matter for the Board and Management of the Chronicle newspapers.The Guyana Press Association (GPA) had, last week, also expressed concerns over the Chronicle’s decision to end its relationship with the two columnists.“The GPA finds it puzzling that after two and a half years of featuring columns and editorials by the two experts in their own right…, the newspaper decided to discontinue publishing their columns,” a statement from the body said.That statement went on to outline that the right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Article 146:1, which states: “Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression; that is to say, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, and freedom from interference with his correspondence.”The GPA has accordingly called on the Chronicle’s Editor-in-Chief, the Board of Directors, and by extension the Government, to revisit the decision with the aim of reinstating the views of these columnists, in keeping with the Guyana Chronicle’s motto – “the Nation’s Newspaper”.