Competitive runner Kemoy Campbell thought he was unstoppable.
A competitive runner for 12 years, Campbell spent four years as a professional and ran the historic 1-mile, 3K and 5K races at the Olympics. He represented Jamaica on the international level several times, including the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2017 World Championship in London.
“Some might say that I was at my prime age for competing at this level. I would also say the same at the time,” Campbell said.
Then, while he was training for the upcoming season and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Campbell collapsed on the track.
“I talked to my friend on the bus on the way to the track, and that’s all I remember of that day,” Campbell said. “I don’t remember getting there, warming up or even pacing the race.”
Three bystanders administered CPR until the paramedics arrived.
A television network employee who was filming the event stepped in to help right away.
With cardiac arrests on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic and with many of us still at home, learning CPR is more important than ever. About 70% of cardiac arrests happen outside a hospital, often at home. The chance of survival goes down 10% for every minute without CPR, so every second counts.
You can learn how to provide Hands-Only CPR in two easy steps. And performing Hands-Only CPR on someone you’ve been isolated with does not increase your risk of getting the coronavirus.
Recovery was rigorous, even for an Olympic athlete. Three days later, Campbell began walking, but it made him dizzy. “It started getting easier as time went on,” he said. “I started feeling less dizzy, and I started walking further and further.”
At 28, Campbell retired his running shoes and took up a new passion — telling his story and inspiring others to learn CPR.
“The best gift you could give someone is their life — and knowing CPR is one step toward presenting this gift,” he said. “Someone who knew CPR gave me that gift and a second chance at life.”
Kemoy Campbell is a competitive runner and CPR advocate.