Baptiste is back

Double Commonwealth Games champion Leon Baptiste says 100m is the focus for 2013, with 2014 the year he is “really going to go for it”

Leon Baptiste (Mark Shearman)

Injury might have dashed Leon Baptiste’s London 2012 dreams, but now the double Commonwealth Games champion is confident he’s back on track.

Although he accepts that competing at this year’s World Championships in Moscow might be a little optimistic, he’s looking forward to concentrating on the 100m this season, with the aim of defending his titles in Glasgow next year.

“It will be good to get back and compete again,” he said, “though next year is the year that I’m really going to go for it.

“I think I’ll mainly focus on the 100m this year to avoid the bends and look after my knees, be extra cautious. Then next year ultimately I want to go and defend my titles.”

The 27-year-old has been out of competitive action since sustaining a knee injury at a warm weather training camp in Portugal prior to last summer’s Olympic Games.

Being a self-funded athlete he faced a six-month wait for surgery to fix the cartilage but thanks, he says, to a few people at UK Athletics, his wait wasn’t quite that long and he’s now been back running for five weeks.

The sprinter stormed to 200m success in Delhi in 2010 to become England’s first Commonwealth sprint gold medallist since 1998. Claiming that title, along with victory as part of the 4x100m team, was, he says, a career high, and a moment he’d love to replicate next year.

“Winning two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games three years ago was the best moment of my life,” he explained.

“I always said to myself, if I could win one gold medal I’d be happy with that and I could retire or whatever but once you win it you just want more and more and more!

“That’s why I rate a lot of athletes like your Andy Turners, your Dai Greenes, Christine Ohuruogu, Jess Ennis, who have been able to go to multiple championships and medal, that’s something.”

Baptiste has also turned his hand to coaching and admits that it’s not just his own career he’s hoping to progress, but that of the next generation of athletics talent too.

But as we caught up at the England Athletics Age Group Indoor Championships on Sunday where he was supporting his two athletes, Owin Sinclair and Beth Dobbin, Baptiste confirmed he’s not done with his own competitive career and hinted that there may well be another Olympic cycle in him yet, even if that does mean going up against the likes of Bolt and Blake.

“I’m taking it on a year to year basis and it will depend on how my form is,” he said, “but something I’m really going for next year is the Commonwealth Games and the Europeans and then ultimately the World Championships.

“I understand that there’s obviously the big Usain Bolt and there’s Yohan Blake and competition is really hot, but at the end of the day you just never know what is going to happen. You’ve just got to go in there believing you can do well and if Usain Bolt is there then Usain Bolt is there, there’s nothing you can do – hopefully he false starts again!”

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