OLYMPIC gold medallist Darren Campbell is one of Britain’s most successful and popular athletes, and now, in his long-awaited autobiography he reveals the real story behind his success.

Track Record, published this week, reveals how Campbell grew up in poverty in Manchester, suffered bullying at school and faced racism on a daily basis.

He also describes life on the streets of Moss Side during the 1980s when a close friend was murdered in a gangland feud and how he witnessed the effect of drugs on his community.

Campbell said: "In 2018 I suffered a life-threatening illness and wasn't expected to live.

"I consider myself incredibly lucky and blessed to still be here.

"After that brush with death I decided that now was the time for me to tell my story and finally reveal some experiences I've never previously made public."


Writing in her foreword to Track Record, Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Denise Lewis said: "Darren has provided more than just a highly readable account of his life and athletics career, he also gives a fascinating insight into him as a person, and has shared with us all how the many events in his celebrated life were shaped by a background that has created resilience and integrity, both on the track and off it."

Published this week in paperback and as an eBook, Campbell's book reveals how as a young boy he was inspired by Carl Lewis' quadruple gold medal performance at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and why, as a promising young sprinter, he left south Manchester for south Wales after discovering he was on a gangland hit-list.

His move from Sale Harriers to live and train in Wales proved beneficial at first, but injuries and disillusionment with the use of performance-enhancing drugs in global athletics, saw him turn to football where he played at a semi-professional level for Cwmbrân Town, Weymouth FC and was offered a contract at Plymouth Argyle.

His realisation, however, that he could either continue to be a decent lower league footballer, or return to the track and become a world-class sprinter, saw him link-up with coach Linford Christie and achieve great success, winning a host of gold, silver and bronze medals at major championships, including silver in the 200m at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and gold in the 4 x 100m at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Christie said:

"I first met Darren when he was 14 years old and he had the ability to charm everyone he met and make them believe that he would be good at whatever he set his mind to.

"Over the years, I realised that there was a deep thinker behind that smile and the only person who could stop him achieving his goals was himself.

"Some of my proudest moments in athletics have been helping Darren achieve his dreams. He is family and always will be."

In Track Record, Darren Campbell also discusses his public falling-out with Michael Johnson at the 2004 Athens Olympics, as well as his attitude towards Dwain Chambers and performance enhancing drugs in sport

In the Preface of Track Record, broadcaster and former editor of Radio 5Live Sport Mike Costello said: "Olympic gold and silver medals are but part of the story.

"Few of us can relate to the elation generated by the unforgettable sprint relay glory of Athens in 2004, just as the murder of a friend brings a darkness too scary for most of us to comprehend.

"Some have been tempted to describe a dropped baton in a relay race as a tragedy.

"Darren Campbell knows better."