Meet OA Games 2022 Ambassador: Alberto Campbell PLY

“When I run, I feel free and competing as an Athlete with a disability means I can be myself.” – Alberto Campbell PLY

Alberto Campbell PLY is an Australian elite athlete with intellectual impairment and has just been announced as a Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022 Athlete Ambassador as well as a competing athlete at the Games.

Alberto has internationally represented Australia in Athletics, including competing in the T20 400m at the 2015 IPC World Championships in Doha, Qatar as well as T20 sprint events at INAS World Championships and Global Games in 2013, 2017 and 2019. Most recently, he represented his country of birth, Jamaica, at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Campbell has overcome many obstacles, not just with his running career, but in his life.  He was born prematurely in Kingston, Jamaica and at 3 months of age was sent to a state-run orphanage where at times he suffered from malnutrition and neglect.

When he was 5 years of age he was transferred to The Nest, a Salvation Army-run orphanage, where Alberto received love and care for the first time in his life and first met Australians Paul and Julie-Anne Staines. They adopted Alberto in 2009 when he was 9 years old.

The following year the family moved back to Australia and it wasn’t long before it was discovered that Alberto had the talent to run fast — at his first school athletics day in Australia he won every race. Alberto became serious about running from the age of 12 and began running competitively.

Alberto has competed against able-bodied athletes at club and state levels and has a string of awards, medals, achievements and distinctions to his name. He competes internationally as an athlete with intellectual impairment in Athletics T20 events.

Throughout all of Campbell ’s hardships and successes he has experienced the support of family and friends.  None of Campbell’s success would have been possible without the love and support of lots of people from family and friends, coaches, training squads, Sport Inclusion Australia, Virtus and the Australian athletics community.

Most importantly everybody supporting Alberto treats him as a person, not someone ‘different’ because he has a disability.  Alberto is an athlete first and foremost, his disability doesn’t change anything but just means they expertly manage the delivery of his program to suit his disability.

At 29 years old, Alberto, now at the tail end of his running career, is focusing more on helping the future generation of sprinters.

He runs a running squad for 6-9 years old where he imparts his love for his sport within fun and enjoyable training sessions. Campbell sees himself as a mentor for up-and-coming T20 sprinters, spending time with them, offering support, advice and guidance.

He encourages them and tells that them that, if like him, they work hard, they too can better themselves and impact the world for the better through sport.

His parents Julie Anne and Paul said, “it overwhelms us to think that he began his life in an orphanage and now he is a dual international representative, having competed for Australia seven times and for Jamaica at the Tokyo Paralympics”.

Campbell has come a long way from that orphanage in Kingston, Jamaica and he has his sights aimed at going even further. He’s excited to not only compete in Athletics at the OA Games 2022 for Australia, but to demonstrate leadership as an OA Games 2022 Ambassador and inspire others to break down boundaries and achieve greatness.

You can follow Alberto Campbell’s journey on YouTube or Facebook. 

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