Touching gesture that brings Aussie Olympian's father to tears

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·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
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Australia's Richie Campbell is pictured playing water-polo.
Australian water polo player Richie Campbell makes sure to give his mum a hug after every game - a gesture which moved his father to tears. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Making it to one Olympic Games is an arduous, painstaking and gruelling process, no matter what sport you play - let alone three.

Talent alone can never be enough - the best of the best show a level of persistence and determination very few can match.

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Where does that drive grow from though? 

It can't be that Olympic athletes are simply 'built different' - they can't do it alone.

Bryan Campbell knows this intimately, as the father of now three-time Olympic water polo player, Richie Campbell.

There's a platoon of coaches, supporters and fans behind them - but few figures will be as important in their lives as their parents.

He sat down with Yahoo Sport Australia to talk about his experiences as the father of an Olympian.

YSA: What is it like to watch you son compete at the Olympics, at the highest level of his sport?

Bryan Campbell: It’s really hard to describe the pride that you have when you see them compete, they give their all, there’s nothing left, it’s all in the pool - you’re just so proud of them.

The secret is of course in Richard himself, he has a passion for the game, a passion to do well. He has never been a person we’ve had to struggle with in terms of training, he’s always wanted to play the game and do the best he possibly can - and he has.

He’s cool calm and collected, I think he gets that from his mother moreso than me. Ritchie always hugs his mother after the games, it’s a beautiful sight. 

YSA: What important role do parents play for a young athlete?

BC: Travelling and supporting the teams at these international and Olympic events is really critical I think.

The players really appreciate the fact that families and supporters are there cheering them on, but also after games, particularly ones we might lose, we always meet, always talk and debrief, as parents supporting our children would do, and there’s nothing better.

YSA: Do you have a favourite piece of memorabilia?

BC: I was given a ball that the team signed from the 2016 Rio Games. 

I think this is one of the key things about the sport, it brings the team together, but it brings the community, the parents, a whole range of people together, and it's something that we all enjoy. 

The strange thing is, it's all about a rubber ball in the water and trying to throw it in the back of a net. But yet we love it, we love what it does to us internally within out hearts and our minds.

YSA: What advice would you give to other parents?

BC: In any athlete, any child, once that fire starts to burn about success, whether it be to get to the Olympics or whatever level they choose, my advice to any parent is to support and resource that spark and flame, and take it as far as your child wishes it to go.

Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:

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