Following his fourth place finish at Glasgow 2014, English high jumper Chris Baker is expected to shine over the next couple of years, crediting the Commonwealth Games as an integral part of his development.
“Glasgow 2014 was my first senior championships so it was an amazing experience for me. To be in front of what was basically a home crowd was incredible; the support there was amazing.
“The Commonwealth Games is a nice stepping stone to move onto the British internationals stage. It’s also where you compete with some of the best home country, as well as international, stars and being able to compete with some of the best in the world is always reassuring.”
Discussing an athletes’ journey, Baker has found that competing for your county is always a personal highlight for any athlete.
“It’s all about hitting the checkpoints; through club, county and country and it’s always nice to be able to compete with your home country’s vest on.”
Despite growing up in Norfolk, Baker now lives in Cardiff and has found that ever since his move just over a year ago, he has become even more proud of his home nation.
“I am so proud of England and to be English. Living in Wales now, I find that I often find myself talking about how proud I am to be English.”
It’s a busy few years for Baker, with Rio on the horizon before attention turn to the next edition of the Commonwealth Games at Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018.
“Gold Coast 2018 is definitely a target of mine. The Commonwealth Games is always a great occasion and I remember watching it when I was growing up so would love to be able to take part in it again and hopefully this time win a medal.
“I’ve never competed in Australia so it will be pretty special to take on the Aussies in their own back yard, as we all love to do.”
Baker is now heading in to a busy outdoor athletics season, and this year he will be featuring in the Birmingham Diamond League meeting on 5 June – exactly two months out from Rio 2016.
“It should be an incredible competition. There will be some of the biggest global names there who have competed against each other on many occasions over the years and they will push each other to jump incredible heights. To be a part of that is something really special and hopefully I will be able to get involved in jumping competitively with them and Robbie and I hopefully walk out on top.
“These are the guys that I have been watching on the TV over previous years so I am honoured to be able to compete with them. My PB is able to cut it with them so hopefully I will be able to perform on the day.”
And once again, Baker believes that the incredible home crowd will prove to be extremely supportive in Birmingham.
“Birmingham is a lovely place to jump, the crowds there are big athletics fans; it’s a lovely place and everyone gets behind each other. It’s always great to have my fellow Englishman Robbie Grabarz there and I am sure the high jump will be one of the highlights of this year’s Birmingham Diamond League.
“It’s really exciting and I am looking forward to it.”
Baker joins the likes of Mo Farah, Dina Asher-Smith, Robbie Grabarz, Gianmarco Tamberi, Derek Drouin, Dafne Schippers, David Rudisha and Adam Gemili in a star-studded field at the Birmingham Diamond League on Sunday, June 5. For tickets visit britishathletics.org.uk