Olympic hero Darren Campbell’s secret gang member past – with best pal shot dead

Olympic gold medal winner Darren Campbell has revealed his secret past as a teenage gang member.

He said one of his best pals from his crew was shot dead and told how he had a lucky escape in a knife attack.

It prompted him to flee the violence he saw growing up on the Racecourse Estate in Sale and in Moss Side in Manchester.

Darren, 47, revealed that after his pal “T” was shot dead in a gang feud, his mum feared he’d be next.

And their worst fears were almost realised when he and a friend called Marlon were attacked by a knife-wielding rival crew in Manchester’s Royal Exchange shopping centre.

Darren revealed: “They came at us and we started fighting. We were surrounded and taking punches from all directions while trying to fight back until security guards or the police arrived, but no-one came.

“It suddenly turned more hostile and very dangerous when one of the five revealed a knife and lunged at us both. I was lucky.

“The knife slashed through my coat, missed my midriff, but left a six-inch gash in the leather.

“Heaven knows what damage that blade could have inflicted.”

After this, he decided to leave Manchester and move to Wales to focus on athletics.

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The decision paid off and Darren embarked on a glittering sports career, including winning gold in the relay at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.

But in his new book Track Record, the dad of three said he felt “shame” that he almost chose a life of crime
after agreeing to take part in a pub robbery.

And he believes God had a hand in keeping him on the straight and narrow – after his bike got a puncture.

He said: “I pulled the hoodie over my head, tied the bandana around my neck and mouth, jumped on my bike and followed the others.

“I was on my way to my first pub robbery.

“I was 16 years old, in a gang of six boys who were on their way to a pub in Manchester.

“On the way to what would have been a misguided and juvenile act of serious criminality with severe consequences, that sign I had been looking for came. My bike suffered a puncture.

“Did fate intervene and prevent me from taking the wrong turn, or was it mere coincidence?

“I believe it was fate and, since that day I have developed a strong faith and spirituality even though I’ve
hardly ever gone to church.”

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