EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – The UTEP Track and Field team will have seven student-athletes competing in five different events in next week’s NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.
Only one of them, Sean Bailey, will compete in two events. For Bailey, gold medals run in his family, and track has always been a family tradition.
“As a kid (growing up in Jamaica), I only watched my sister run. She’s the only one I paid attention to,” Bailey said.
That was for good reason; Bailey’s older sister is one of the best sprinters of the 21st century: Three-time Jamaican Olympic gold medalist, Veronica Campbell Brown.
The former Arkansas Razorback star competed in five Olympic Games from 2000 to 2016, winning gold in the 200 meters in 2004 and 2008. She also was a member of Jamaica’s gold medal-winning 4×100 team at the 2004 Athens Games.
Beyond those three gold medals, Campbell Brown won five more Olympic medals; three silvers as a member of the 4×100 team (2000, 2012, 2016) and two bronze in the 100 meters (2004, 2012).
Bailey was just a child when his older sister won gold in back-to-back Olympic games in 2004 and 2008, but the memories of seeing her sprint to victory in the 200 meters in Athens and Beijing will last for a lifetime.
“As soon as that gun went, it was just a lot of cheering, even though she couldn’t hear it I think it helped,” Bailey said. “It was very exciting, one of the most exciting races I’ve ever watched because she’s my sibling.”
His sister’s track record even helped land Sean at UTEP. Miners assistant coach Davian Clarke is also a former Jamaican Olympian, winning bronze as a member of the 4×400 team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Clarke has known Campbell Brown for two decades; his wife went to high school with her in Jamaica; and he used that to his advantage during Bailey’s recruitment.
“His sister had called me and said they’d send him to junior college (Western Texas College, where Bailey broke junior college records), so he was on my radar,” Clarke said. “We just kept on with the process and stayed in touch with him. I think because I’ve known the family for so long that gave me a bit of an edge.”
Bailey says he talks to his older sibling every day about track and field, and has taken a lot from his superstar sister, including nutrition, training exercises, and her mentality on the track.
“She’s more of a mentor for me. She’ll tell me what I need to do and don’t need to do, and moving forward after school, getting an agent and signing a contract, all that stuff,” Bailey said.
First thing’s first though: bailey has some business to attend to at next week’s NCAA Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene. He’ll race in the 400 meters and play an important role for the Miners’ 4×400 team.
Bailey had one of the six-fastest times in the 400 during national qualifying last week in College Station, Texas, and the relay team turned in a top 10 time as well. Everyone involved has high hopes, and Bailey thinks he could make some noise on the world-famous track in the Pacific Northwest.
“I like my chances a lot,” said Bailey. “I’ve learned this season that it’s more mental than anything. I still have a little more to go before I peak, but I think I’m in a good state to make the finals, and get a medal.”
Ideally, whatever medal he gets will be gold, to keep with the family tradition.