Double sprint Commonwealth Gold medalist Leon Baptiste to call it a day and focus on coaching young sprinters and inspiring youngsters to be the best they can be.
Leon Baptiste, double gold medalist in the sprints at the 2010 Commonwealth Games (200m and 100m relay) has made the tough decision to hang up his spikes and focus on a coaching career. He has already taken the opportunity to develop his coaching work under his mentor Steve Fudge, British Athletics National Institute Sprints Coach and will now embark on a coaching career using his experience as a world class sprinter to nurture young talent within the coaching team at the National Performance Institute in Loughborough.
After a 15 year career with some amazing highs and lows – from winning European Junior 100m and double gold in the sprints at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 to the devastating blow of having major knee surgery which ruled him out of the London Olympic Games – he feels now the time has come to focus his career on helping others achieve their goals.
“As much as I am sprinting and progressing, my body has never fully recovered from my knee surgery and my coach and I feel that Glasgow Commonwealth Games qualification is a tall order – so the time has come for my focus to move elsewhere. The decision for an athlete to retire is never easy, especially with the defence of my titles just around the corner, but in essence the decision has been made for me. It has, however, been made a bit easier as a result of my success over the past two years coaching some young athletes. The result of which has been the opportunity at me to progress this and embark on a career as a sprints coach.
“I will also be carrying on my work with the Sky Sports Living for Sport Programme with the Youth Sport Trust – going into schools to motivate youngsters to use sport to make a difference to their lives. It is really inspiring and is something I want to do alongside my coaching. I have had a lot of help from my coaches, family and friends and hope that I can now help young people of all abilities be the best they can be,” he added.
Steve Fudge, Leon’s coach said:
“British sprinting is on the rise at the moment. This has been down to focus on coach education. Better coaches have brought us faster, healthier athletes. If we want to see the event group continue to flourish we have to keep investing in developing coaches by allowing talented young coaches, like Leon, a framework to grow and develop in their own way. Over the last two years Leon has committed himself voluntary to making himself a better coach by shadowing other coaches, researching, attending conferences, being involved in the NCDP and most importantly by learning from his experiences of coaching a group of young sprinters at Loughborough. He is doing everything he possibly can to develop as a coach and I look forward to seeing him to continue to grow and evolve his coaching and hopefully helping British sprinting to continue to grow into a dominant force on the world stage.”
Peter Stanley, Head of Coaching and Development at British Athletics and Commonwealth Games Team Leader for England Athletics, further added:
“Leon has represented his country with professionalism and pride throughout his career, culminating in two gold medals for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. He always applied himself to his training tasks and I have seen him make a subtle change to his targets over the last 12 months as his emphasis has changed to supporting other athletes using his knowledge. He has also been shadowing and observing other coaches which I am sure will underpin his continued enthusiasm for the sport as he develops his coaching expertise. look forward to working with him and alongside him.”