Amber Campbell talks retirement, Nassar and the Olympics
Towards the end of 2017, former Coastal Carolina alumni and three-time Olympian Amber Campbell retired from Track & Field competition.
Campbell, a 16-time Big South Champion in her four years at Coastal Carolina, represented the United States in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, 2012 London Summer Olympics and the 2016 Rio de Janiero Summer Olympics.
She talked about what led to her decision to formally retire.
“I was ready to be done,” said Campbell. “Physically, I feel like I could still compete. However, I just didn’t have that fire anymore. After Rio, I had planned on being done, but 2016 was a really good year for me. So, I wanted to see what I could do in 2017. I didn’t want to end on an absolute best and ask myself ‘what if.' The 2017 was very successful, but I was ready to be done.”
Since her retirement, Campbell has been working for the City of Myrtle Beach in the Human Resources/Organizational Development Department.
“I am the Organizational Development Coordinator for the city,” said Campbell. “I basically do career development and leadership training. I serve the staff of the City of Myrtle Beach when it comes to their compliance training, workplace violations, sexual harassment awareness and the system that houses all that information.”
Earlier this year, Larry Nassar, former United States Olympic Gymnastics doctor and Michigan State University team, was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for sexually assaulting members of the United States Olympic Gymnastics team. Several of the women who spoke out were well-known Olympians such as Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.
Campbell gave her thoughts on the scandal that rocked the country and what went wrong inside the United States Olympic Committee.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Campbell. “Whether they are Olympians or not, anybody in that position of having the threat of their career being put at stake in order for someone to take advantage of them - it is heart wrenching. The lack of systems in place is to blame because, while there is a reporting system, if there is no checks and balances once it is reported and investigated and there was no ‘what happens next’ when this first was reported.”
While Campbell hated to see this happen to her fellow Olympic athletes, she was inspired by their courage in the wake of the scandal, and their ability to come out and speak about the abuse they went through.
“My respect for these women rose immensely,” said Campbell. “I think when anybody on any level, regardless of their platform, has the courage to speak out against the system that has so many different layers and complexities has my utmost respect. Anybody that has the courage to say ‘this happened to me, this is wrong and I am not letting it happen to anyone else’, I respect them greatly. I can’t imagine the strength of character and the strength of mind that they had to have to not only be able to endure that but be able to compete and perform at the highest level as well.”
Campbell hopes that her career allows to her to serve on the United States Olympic Committee and be part of the Committee that serves Olympians.
At the end of July 2017, the International Olympic Committee announced that Los Angeles would be the host of the 2028 Summer Olympics. Campbell says that she definitely plans to attend the Games as a fan and take in the Olympic experience from a different perspective,
“It is going to be amazing to see the Olympics back in the United States,” said Campbell. “Americans do a great job of getting behind the Olympic spirit, regardless of where it is hosted. However, for the Olympics to be back on American soil, I think the energy is going to be beyond what we have seen in the past. I want to see the Olympics as a fan, and I plan on going to Tokyo in 2020, but I can’t wait for the Games to get here in Los Angeles.”
Campbell is hoping that her retirement from Olympic competition will allow her to come out and catch some more Coastal sporting events. She says getting involved in the alumni association was a great way for her to give back to the university that helped her get where she is today.