Ballarat 17yo off to Ukraine for world youth athletics championships
By PAT NOLAN
June 19, 2013
EVERY morning when Sam Baird wakes up he imagines himself on the running track in Ukraine, sprinting faster than ever before.
That is the dream, and the reality is just weeks away.
Baird, 17, will compete in the 400-metre event in the World Youth Track and Field Championships next month in Ukraine.
The year 11 Ballarat Grammar School student will go up against the best athletes in the world for his age group, the only Australian male athlete to pull on the green and gold in a running event.
He knows he will have to run the race of his life when he gets over there, but he can expect big things if his latest form is anything to go by.
Baird took out the Queensland All Comers meet earlier this month, posting yet another personal best with a time of 47.14 seconds, despite wet and windy conditions.
Although there is a sense of the unknown heading into the world championships, he feels he can shave at least a further three-tenths of a second off his PB.
The former footballer, who converted to athletics less than a year ago, posted a qualifying time in the Perth Track Classic in March with a time of 47.29.
“I’ve been waiting for a while for this to come around now,” Baird said.
“I’m nervous but still excited. I think it’s good that I’m nervous though, it shows how much it means to me and how much I want it.
“Every morning I picture myself over there, which gives me the drive to keep pushing.”
Coached by Peter O’Dwyer, Baird trains about 15 hours a week and feels he is a genuine chance to standing on the podium after what he hopes will be three successful races over three days.
“Athletics Australia have told me reaching the final is as good as a gold medal, but I want to get on the podium. Even a bronze medal would be unbelievable,” Baird said.
Baird said his ultimate goal beyond the junior youth world championships was to make the Australian 4x400-metre team in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Rio de Janiero Olympics in 2016.
He leaves Australia on July 2. His first heat is on July 10.