USA’s world indoor 60m bronze medallist Ronnie Baker explains why his world-leading run in 2017 was the high moment of his career and outlines the injury torment he endured at the US Championships later that year as his low point.
I turned pro in the fall of 2016 and my first winter training as a professional athlete went well. I changed my focus and because I no longer had as many things to occupy my time as I did in college, this allowed me to take better care of my body and hone in on the specific things which propelled me to the next level in 2017.
For me, I had two highs. The first came during the indoor season and winning the US 60m title in 6.45 – a world-leading time. It was a great check box for my career and I was excited and happy with the achievement, especially coming in my first year as a professional athlete.
Then during the outdoor season, I ran a wind-aided 9.86 to win the 100m at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene. The Prefontaine Classic is one of the bigger meets on the Diamond League schedule and to race against and beat some of the greats of the sport that day was a huge accomplishment for me.
Before the race I was nervous, but to run well, post a quick time and win the race pushed me to a whole new level.
My low moment came later that year at the US Championships.
All I asked coming in was to stay healthy and progress through the rounds, but about 70 metres into my first-round heat, I felt something in my right leg. I crossed the line first in 10.02 but I had picked up a small hamstring strain.
Overnight we did all we could to manage this issue. I had massage work. I did stretching, I iced the leg. My right hamstring even felt tight when I sat down. Because I was competing at the US Championships and I had to find a way to get on the start line, I decided to race the semi-finals the next day.
From the gun, I was in quite a bit of pain and from about 60-70 metres into the race I knew my chance of advancing had disappeared (Baker finished sixth in 10.26).
It was rough to experience, especially as I had run consistently fast all year. I was upset and very down. It was also really hard to swallow, knowing that throughout my NCAA career I had never made a 100m final and that I also missed out on a finals place at the 2016 Olympic Trials.
It was really frustrating because I knew I was capable of running faster and making the US team. It made me feel angry. I thought about not wanting to run anymore, but you have to grow up, swallow that defeat and keep running.
Steve Landells for the IAAF