This is it: Ipswich achiever's Olympic quest
IPSWICH Olympic prospect Andrew Campbell has waited years for his opportunity of a lifetime.
Even suffering a broken hand playing in Germany failed to stop the loyal regional sportsman in his quest to represent his country at next year's Tokyo Olympics.
Just back from his latest international trip, the Ipswich Musketeers and Brisbane Bandits baseballer is preparing for what could be the most challenging but satisfying 12 months of his sporting career.
As part of Team Australia, the ambidextrous centre fielder will soon head overseas again to help his national side qualify for next year's Olympics.
"It's not just a six-month thing. It's been like a three-year process,'' Campbell said of his bid to secure a spot in the Aussie side hoping to contest the 2020 Tokyo tournament.
"It's pretty cool to see it all unfolding now.''
Campbell has timed his run well despite his recent mishap.
He broke his left hand after being struck by a wild pitch playing for Heidenheim Heidekopfe in Germany's elite Baseball-Bundesliga competition.
"I knew something was wrong and it turned out it was,'' Campbell said. "I had seven weeks off.''
Just eight games into his stint with the club, Campbell returned to Australia early to rest and recover before rejoining his international teammates for the last of their regular season games and the playoffs.
The popular baseballer nicknamed Soupy hit five home runs in four weeks of playoffs to help Heidenheim secure the championship.
Having played key roles in the Brisbane Bandits' past four Australian Baseball League title triumphs, the former St Edmund's College student enjoyed his German experience despite his setback.
Campbell, 27, is part of the Team Australia contingent heading to Japan on October 24.
The Aussies have a week-long training camp before two warm-up games in Taiwan leading into the "Premier 12'' qualifying series in Korea.
"If we do well, we go straight into the Olympics, so it's our first qualifying chance,'' Campbell said.
Having shared in the Bandits' winning culture under former Major League catcher Dave Nielsen, Campbell knows the Aussie team guided by the same manager will be a competitive force.
"We went to Japan last year . . and that was basically to build a team to prepare for this tournament and then on to the Olympics,'' he said. "I know all the guys are really keen to get over there and win.''
Being a left-handed batter and right-arm thrower, Campbell has added motivation. He wants to improve on the 12 home runs he struck for the Bandits in last year's national league.
"I always want to try and get better and better,'' he said.
He's already issued a challenge to Bandits teammate Mitch Nielsen, nephew of the highly respected Dave.
"I'm just trying to beat Mitch Nielsen this year because he claims to be a home-run hitter,'' the Ipswich achiever said.
Campbell had previously played in major tournaments in countries like The Netherlands, Japan and Taiwan, where he was part of last year's Chinese Professional Baseball League Home Run Derby.
He said the German style of baseball provided valuable new insights into the game he loves.
"It's a bit like Japanese,'' he said. "They like to try and force runs rather than just let the game flow.
"In the ABL especially, we just let the hitters hit and what-ever happens, happens. Whereas the Germans play baseball like a chess game, try and be tactical about it.
"It took some adjusting for me.''
For a power hitter like Campbell, that was another valuable learning experience as he chases his Olympic dream.