Edmond athlete Jeremy Campbell will take the world's stage this month at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The 24-year-old discus thrower will compete in the Paralympics representing the USA for the second time and hopes to break his own world record, one he set in June at the 2012 UCO Endeavor Games in Edmond. The games begin Aug. 29.
“I'm more than ready to go over there and compete and do my best,” Campbell said in an interview with The Oklahoman via Skype. He was training at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Campbell competes wearing a high-tech carbon fiber prosthetic leg, not unlike the two worn by South African Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee who inspired the world with his Olympic performances this summer.
Campbell's leg also is strikingly similar to and made by the same prosthetics company as the tail of a famous dolphin, Winter, who inspired and starred in the movie “Dolphin Tale.”
A competitive nature
Campbell has always competed without the benefit of a natural right leg — he was born without a fibula in his right leg. Doctors decided to amputate the leg when he was 1.
That didn't stop Campbell. He played varsity football, baseball and basketball in high school in Perryton, Texas, wearing various prosthetic devices and breaking dozens in the process.
“This is all I know,” Campbell told The Oklahoman in 2010 as he prepared for the UCO Endeavor Games. “This is real to me. I don't know anything different.”
His brother Caleb Campbell is a professional football player for the Kansas City Chiefs. His other brother, Jacob Campbell, is a famous bull rider.
Campbell has several prosthetic legs. Some look lifelike, some are for performance. The one he'll wear for his Paralympic competitions is a sleek carbon fiber model, specially designed by prosthetist Chad Simpson of Hanger Clinic in Oklahoma City. The leg has a spring built into the side of it for shock absorption, Simpson said.
Simpson first met Campbell at the 2003 UCO Endeavor Games. That year would turn out to be the first of 10 consecutive years Campbell has competed in the Games, setting several world records along the way.
At the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, Campbell blew away his competition and set a world record in the pentathlon, beating the rest of the field by almost 400 points. Campbell also won gold in the men's discus F44.
At this year's UCO Endeavor Games in June, Campbell beat his own world record, one he set only a month earlier at the BT Paralympic World Cup in England.
In fact, he beat it twice — his first throw was 62.3 meters and his second was 63.45 meters.
Campbell is part of University of Central Oklahoma's resident athlete program. The school is an official Olympic and Paralympic Training Site and hosts 16 paralympic resident athletes.
“The only limit is our imagination,” Simpson said of the advancing technology of prosthetic fabrication.
Many of the advances in prosthetics are because of a high demand for the devices due to war-related injuries and amputations, Simpson said. But these advances benefit all who require prostheses, human or otherwise.
When a Hanger Clinic prosthetist in Florida heard about a dolphin named Winter whose tail had been amputated, his imagination inspired him to design a prosthetic dolphin tail. The movie “Dolphin Tale” is the true story of that dolphin's journey.
Because dolphins have extremely sensitive skin, a special gel material was developed by Hanger and ALPS, a medical device manufacturer. The material creates a bond with Winter's skin without causing heat spots that irritate her skin. The gel, called WintersGel, forms a waterproof layer between the skin and the prosthesis.
Campbell, too, wears a special WintersGel sock fitted under his prosthetic leg.
Winter's prosthetic tail allows her to swim freely and inspire the crowds of people that come to visit her at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Fla., where she lives.
Campbell hopes his high-tech prosthetic leg will help him continue to break new ground in his athletic career. His goal is to compete in the men's discus event at the 2016 Olympics against his able-bodied peers.
The London 2012 Paralympic Games will be webcast at Universalsports.com.