Aussie Athlete Cut From Paralympic Team Will Now Compete For Jamaica
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Alberto Campbell-Staines will be wearing green and gold when he competes at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, although his athletic apparel won't have 'Australia' written across its chest.
Despite being a national champion and living Down Under for basically all his life, Campbell-Staines will instead be representing his birth country of Jamaica during this year's 400m event in Tokyo.
During his rise to prominence on the track, Campbell-Staines established himself as one of the country's hottest young talents by becoming Australian champion across different age groups in the 200m and 400m events.
He certainly had a bright future ahead of him.
But in 2016, Campbell-Staines was forced to miss the Rio Games after the Paralympic Committee reduced Australia's number of athletes at the last-minute.
Absolutely gutted that his lifelong dream had been crushed at the final hurdle, the talented runner turned to one of his coaches who reportedly suggested that he should contact Jamaican officials to see if he could get on their team.
It wasn't long before Campbell-Staines received an email from Jamaica's Paralympic Committee and he was quickly recruited.
Introducing Alberto Campbell, our athlete who will contest the Men's 400m in the T20 category at the #Paralympics. Alberto was the first of our 4 :flag_jm: Paralympians to arrive in Japan. Catch him in action on Monday, August 30!:runner:♂️ #TeamJamaica #UnitedByEmotions pic.twitter.com/utALMvctai
- Shorna-Kay Richards (@ShornaKayR) August 23, 2021
Now, almost five years after missing Rio, and the 28-year-old has Paralympic gold in his sights - this time representing Jamaica, not Australia.
"My allegiance doesn't go either way: I'm just in the middle," Campbell-Staines told ABC.
"Australia has been so good to me in the past and I'm sure they will continue to support me, no matter what happens."
Incredibly, Campbell-Staines admits Australian officials - who originally made the tough decision to axe him back in 2016 - helped out with the process of transferring his allegiance over to Jamaica.
"[One] actually said to me: 'He's competing for Jamaica, but he'll always be an Australian', and it just shows what a fantastic community the athletics community is," he added.
Campbell-Staines was born with an intellectual disability and was sent to live in an orphanage in Kingston where he spent most of his childhood.
At age nine, he was adopted by Aussie couple Paul and Julie-Anne Staines who were teaching in Jamaica at the time.
The family returned to Brisbane and five years later Alberto became an Australian citizen.
Featured Image Credit: YouTube / Paul Staines
Topics: Jamaica, tokyo paralympics, Paralympics, Australia