Darren Campbell on the shooting that changed his life, poverty and inspiring others

From a very young age Darren Campbell knew what he wanted; to make it to the Olympics and to become successful in business. The gold medallist set those goals aged 12 and, 31 years later, there's no doubting he's reached them.

It's been 10 years since his athletics retirement and Campbell is mainly focused on giving back, getting children involved in sport and continuing to write his legacy.

He looks back on his career with a bird's-eye view, aware of the significance of someone who grew up on a council estate in Manchester in a single-parent family winning medals for Britain: "It was about creating the legacy and showing people that, yeah, I started rock bottom and most people don't get out of where I come from, but not only can I get out of it, I can get to the top in my field."

Darren Campbell kisses his Gold Medal
(Phil Noble/PA)

Campbell says he saw "things that young people, in my eyes, aren't meant to see" growing up, but those things contributed to the former footballer's reputation for upping his levels when it came to finals.

"You stand on that line against the best in the world and you've got 10 seconds, so obviously fear does come into it... but for me how I dealt with that is - I know what real fear is, and running from A to B as quick as possible? That ain't scary. Going into a nightclub and gunshots going off, stuff like that, that's scary," he said.

Rising to the top, past people who probably had more privileged starts in life, is something he clearly takes pride in, especially given the reaction when he dared announce his dreams while at school.

"At 12 I practised my autograph and was telling my teachers that one day I would go the Olympic Games, and they laughed and said 'kids like you don't go to the Olympic Games'. I was trying to find inspiration but it was being suppressed in me."

Great Britain's Darren Campbell reacts after finishing last in his Men's 200m semi final
(David Davies/PA)

Experiences like that are part of why giving back now, and ensuring kids from similar backgrounds can follow his path, is so important.

"The night before I won my Olympic gold, my final prayer was that if I'm lucky enough to become Olympic champion, I'll only do good work with the medal. Hopefully that's what I'm doing.

"One of the things I say when I speak to young people is, if you dream of having a million pounds, and you only get halfway there, you'll have a half a million pounds... are you gonna be upset with that? Don't be afraid to try, because what you may see as failure ultimately may not be failure."

Prince Harry share a joke with Darren Campbell
(Jon Bond/PA)

Darren doesn't view himself as a role model, a tag he feels is "given out too easily", but simply as someone "inspiring people to believe in their dreams".

"Growing up on a council estate, I'm multicultural. You grow up around multicultural people and in that, poverty doesn't discriminate. Whether you're Asian, black or you're white, we're all broke.

"A lot of it in those situations is about giving people who come from there hope, that's why it's important that someone that comes from there shows how they got out, so you can see the path."

Darren Campbell at a school
(Myung Jung Kim/PA)

"I think more could be done to look after people coming from deprived backgrounds," he said. There's a lot of fantastic talent there but they're not being led in the right way, and the only way you're going to be able to lead people from those types of backgrounds is if they can relate to the person that's trying to educate.

"Like I said earlier on, you'll have had to have walked a mile in my shoes to understand me.

"One of my things is, real always recognises real. I can still go to the hood, I can still go to wherever I need to go because along my journey, I've not tried to change. I've just evolved, and I learned, and I'm willing to learn. The skills that I picked up on the council estate I've just used and utilised in every turn in life."

Great Britain's Darren Campbell with his gold medal in the 4x100m relay
(John Walton/EMPICS Sport)

The turning point growing up for Darren, when he really decided to put his all into achieving his goals, was seeing his friend's body after he'd been shot in the head.

"That made me decide if I was lucky enough to be a sports person, and good enough to become Olympic champion, that I would go back and inspire. A lot of what I'm about is trying to make sure young people don't see the things that I saw." he said. "My friend is a big motivation in why I do a lot of the things that I do."

Darren's background also played a role in his decision to stay clean in athletics at a time when there was a lot of pressure to cheat.

"I came from the grimy streets, I've done things I regret in life, (but) once I had the opportunity to earn legal money, why am I going to mess it up by cheating? It didn't make sense to me. My mum always said to me, when I was younger, the day you feel you need to cheat to be the best - stop. It's not that serious."

England's Darren Campbell celebrates as he wins a Gold Medal
(John Giles/PA)

In his mind there's still a way to go to be considered successful in business, but with his nutrition company sponsoring the likes of Premier League champions Leicester, as well as Welsh football and rugby, that's up for debate.

"I guess what I'm trying to show people is that it doesn't matter where you start, it's important where you finish, and ultimately you get to decide that.

"If I can make a difference to just one person's life then I've been successful. If you can change one person's life then you've been a success. I view myself as a success because I've got the opportunity to change people's lives."

Darren Campbell's Get Inspired - BBC Radio 5 live - Thursday December 1 from 7.30pm to 8.30pm

Sprinter and Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell presents a new 5 live programme which aims to inspire participation in sport at all levels, and which asks tough questions of the people who run British sport. Darren believes passionately in the benefits of taking part in sport, and in the next show he talks to Watford striker Troy Deeney to hear about his career and how he started out. Visit BBC Get Inspired for information on how to get active all around the UK.

Read Full Story