Eight-year climb delivers Olympic selection to Campbell Harrison
Aussie sport climber Campbell Harrison is thrilled to be preparing for his first Olympics. Photo: AAP
Finally earning Olympics selection sparked the rawest of emotions from Campbell Harrison.
He and fellow sport climber Oceania Mackenzie are the first Australian team members confirmed this year for the Paris Games, with team chef de mission Anna Meares making the announcement on Tuesday in Melbourne.
There are now five confirmed selections, with about 460 to 480 to compete in July and August.
Harrison and Mackenzie earned their Paris berths by winning last November’s Oceania qualifying event.
He sat on the floor after his final climb and wept with relief and joy.
The 26-year-old had been on the right track for selection when climbing made its debut at the Tokyo Games.
But a combination of COVID-19’s restrictions and his sister Emily’s cancer diagnosis forced Harrison to make the brutal decision to opt out of trying for Tokyo.
“It’s not often you sit in front of a crowd of a few hundred people and sit on the ground and cry,” Harrison said.
“It was a very, very special moment.
“The reaction you saw from me at the Olympic qualifier was the culmination of more than eight years of dedicated hard work, multiple setbacks.
“It all just came together and I fell into this perfect flow mindset. When I finished all those emotions came out of me – it was very pure, very natural.”
There will be a solid support contingent joining Harrison at the Olympics, including Emily and her fiance.
“It’s something cool that she’s going to be able to do, to hopefully get her mind off everything that’s going on, to some degree,” Harrison said of his sister’s ongoing cancer battle.
“But nothing – even the majesty of the Olympics – can’t really dull the seriousness of that situation.
“I am excited it’s something we can share.”
Harrison’s Dad Russell, who has represented Australia in parasport climbing and his Mum Yvette will be in Paris, along with Campbell’s partner Justin Maire.
There are many elements to Harrison’s sport climbing career, and Sport Climbing Australia chair Philip Goebel paid tribute to him at the announcement for his advocacy of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“It’s not only made our community stronger, but also strengthened the overall sporting community, and made our sport more inclusive and welcoming,” Goebel said.
To Harrison’s that’s a no-brainer.
“At its core, being queer is just a part of who I am,” he said.
“It’s really important that whether I’m openly advocating or championing queer issues, the fact I’m not shying away from identity as a queer person is really important.
“I’ve met so many people who are queer people, who don’t see themselves as included in sport, and so just being one person … can be really empowering.”
This will be Mackenzie’s second Olympics and she continues to break new ground for Australian sport climbing with unprecedented top-10 results at world championships and World Cup rounds.
Mackenzie and Harrison will compete in the combined Lead/Boulder event, with the sport climbing to be held from August 5-10 at Le Bourget.