Ben’s taste of the Olympics

Training locally: Athlete Ben Baker works out with instructor Richard Barnes at Splitz Fitness.ATHLETE Ben Baker had a taste of Olympic atmosphere and now he wants more.

The javelin competitor from Johns River was part of a team of athletes who travelled to China and Taiwan in May and June.

In China Ben competed at the Olympic venue, the National Stadium or “Birds Nest”, at the Good Luck Beijing Games – a test event for the Olympics.

“The stadium was packed, it was full-on and the atmosphere was amazing,” he said.

“The Chinese 110m hurdler was competing at the same time and he’s the world champion so they were all there for him but I got a sense of the feeling of competing in that environment.”

Ben said he was disappointed with his performance in this tournament. He was training under a new coach who changed a few technical details right before the games.

“I just couldn’t put it together in time,” Ben said.

In Taiwan at the Chinese Taipei International Athletics Meet Ben earned a silver medal with a 70.56m throw.

“It was a bit down, my personal best is 73m, but I’m working with both my coaches, Colin Smith who is locally-based and Rudolph Sopko in Narabeen to improve.

“I’m close to qualifying levels. To qualify at B level the minimum distance is 75m and A qualifier is 80m. ‘A’ means you go to the Olympics and ‘B’ is like a reserve. It’s hard work but I’ve had a lot of support from Colin and Richard Barnes at Splitz fitness is sponsoring my weight training, my employers at Mid Coast Eggs are also very understanding of my training schedule and my wife Casie is very supportive.”

Ben said his admission to the recent international events came from Australian selectors keen to see athletes who may be in form for the 2012 Olympics.

“It was very motivating and a good experience even though I didn’t do as well as I could have,” Ben said.

During the winter months Ben is undergoing weight training at Splitz Fitness, building strength for the competitive summer season ahead which will mean travelling to Newcastle, state, national and grand prix events as well as travelling to Narabeen for coaching every eight weeks.

“My goal is so close now, I’ve come too far in the last eight years to quit. I’m aiming for the Commonwealth Games in two years and the World Championships next year,” Ben said.

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