Rob Baker on his EOC selection


Rob on Day 2 of JK

Congratulations on your selection for the European Championships Rob! Was this a surprise selection for you or all part of the plan?

Thanks for the congratulations - I certainly appreciate all the kind words that I have received in the last couple of days from family, friends and club mates.

In November/ December I set my goals for the season, which were around stepping up my performances in key races. I wanted to come top 6 in all selection races and I specifically targeted the British. I set a couple of "super" aspirational goals and these were around getting selected and performing well in the world champs and the European championships. So getting selected was certainly something that I had been thinking about this year…but it certainly wasn’t something that I was banking on. I don't think it is too healthy though just to aim for selection - I know that I am in a strong team and want to perform well.

You have progressed to producing selection-warranting results, how have you managed this? Any specific training/situations you have put yourself in or changes you have made in order to achieve these results?

I haven’t done anything dramatically different this year, if anything I have been more relaxed about my training. I think that this has been pretty healthy and whilst in the past I have been a bit of a slave to my training diary this year I have listened to my body more and as a result picked up less niggles / illnesses that I have in previous years. I have also run a full cross country season with Hallamshire Harriers ( my athletics club (Jenny Whitehead, Rachel Elder and Mike Sprot are also members) which I think has helped developed my base speed.

The set up in Sheffield is great and there is always training sessions going on. Training with seasoned squaddies such as Mat and Oli is always useful and is a constant reminder of the level you are striving to achieve. I have also spent a lot of time talking with coaches such as Nick Lightfoot and Tim Tett and other aspiring internationals such as Neil Northrop and Mike Sprot about how to try and step up to the next level.

It seemed apt that you were the one to be selected instead of BJ as it was you who got help to him on the day! But many may think you have been lucky to get selected due to the unfortunate injury to BJ how do you feel about this? Any words for BJ?

Yeah it was a real shame for BJ. I am impressed by the high spirits that he is keeping because he must be bitterly disappointed – this just reflects the kind of positive person he is. I hope am sure that he will be back fighting for medals at WOC.

BJ’s injury must have caused the selectors an unforeseen headache. I am just pleased that I put myself in contention for the vacant slot.

What are your goals for EOC? ...and beyond that what are the goals? World Champs?

I don’t want to put any limits on what I can achieve, in what will be a new arena for me. My focus will be around things that I can control and striving for a near perfect technical performance. I am excited about the potential of the whole team and there is a bit of a buzz around what we can achieve. I certainly don’t intend to be just making up the numbers.

Beyond EOC I just want to ensure that my progress carries on in an upward trajectory, moving from top 6 performances at major races to top 3 and ultimately number 1. I will certainly be making use of the great experiences that I gain from EOC and hopefully these will put me in good stead if I make the world champs team. However, I know that competition for places will be even fiercer in the summer (which can only be a good thing for the team).

Finally, For those of us who don't know much about you could you give us a little run-down of yourself e.g. What you do, where your based/from, how you got into orienteering, club, brief experience, past results highlights etc.

I am 28 years old and live in Walkley, Sheffield with Clare Leventon (my most important coach, motivator and mentor). I am about 5 minutes run from 10 elite orienteers - if there was a UK post code champs S6 would certainly be in contention! I work in Human Resources for Rotherham Council, who are great employer in terms of flexible working (and they have given me the week off on full pay to compete at EOC!).

In terms of orienteering, I first started at the age of 10 and have won a few British champs along the way (M16, M20). I took a bit of a beer and girl enforced sabbatical from orienteering for a couple of years between ages of 17 – 19. Internationally, I have run at JWOC, Park World Tour and a couple of B international races. This will be the first time that I have competed for Great Britain for about 5 years so it is a real honour. I currently run for SYO, and have run for Warrior and IFK Gothenburg in the past.

Many of my best results have come about this year, but career highlights include 2nd M21E2 at the Spring Cup and top 20s in the sprint and classic at the Nordic Meeting (B international) in 2001. I was also pleased with my 2nd place in the UK Cup last year and particularly my performances at the races in Guildford – my run at Battersea park which would have earnt me a top 25 spot on the equivalent World Cup course.

Thanks for taking time out to chat to us and on behalf of nopesport congratulations again and good luck in Estonia!

Rob Baker speaking to Nopesport

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