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Friday, June 18, 1999 Published at 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK


Minister leads tributes to athlete

The death of Ross Baillie has shocked the sporting world

Sports Minister Tony Banks has led tributes to Scottish athlete Ross Baillie who died after suffering a severe reaction to a peanut allergy.

Baillie collapsed after eating a sandwich during a training session in Bath on Wednesday and failed to regain consciousness.

Mr Banks said: "Ross' death is an appalling tragedy. He was an immensely talented athlete with an extremely bright future.

[ image: Tony Banks:
Tony Banks: "Appalling tragedy"
"Colin Jackson himself described Ross as his natural successor and that is no small compliment.

"My thoughts are with Ross' family - the enormous loss felt by British athletics is only a tiny fraction of what they must be feeling now."

Swimmer Mark Foster, who was with Baillie when he bought the fatal sandwich, reflected on losing a friend.

He said: "Ross was a really great guy who got on well with everyone. He shared a flat with Colin Jackson, but if Colin wasn't around he would often come around to my place.

"We were good friends and I will miss him as I think will all the other athletes and swimmers based in Bath and my thoughts are all with Ross' family today."

"Utmost sympathy"

UK Athletics performance director Max Jones said: "On behalf of the British team and UK Athletics, I would like to extend our utmost sympathy to the family and friends of Ross Baillie who, tragically, died earlier today."

Scottish Athletics Federation chief executive David Joy said Baillie's loss will be hard-felt by everyone involved in the sport north of the border.

He said: "The Scottish Athletics Federation are devastated by the news of the tragic death of Ross Baillie.

"Ross was a young man who was well liked by everyone he met and had a lifetime of opportunity in front of him.

"The Scottish Athletics Federation extends its sympathies to Hugh and Sheila Baillie and their family."

"Saddened staff"

Director of Sport at the University of Bath, Ged Roddy, said Baillie's death has saddened his entire staff.

He said: "Ross Baillie was a talented young athlete and very popular with us all here. We are devastated by his loss and he will be greatly missed."

Bob Sommerville, who trained Baillie in his formative years in Glasgow, said athletics had lost a great prospect.

He said: "Ross accomplished a lot but would have gone on and done so much more.

"He was improving all the time at a rapid rate. He was one of those guys who was totally focused on his running and, to my mind, he had a superb talent which was just coming to fruition."

Journalist Sandy Sutherland: "One of our brightest prospects"
Leading Scottish athletics journalist Sandy Sutherland described the news as "horrific".

He said: "He was one of our brightest prospects and was all set to go to this year's World Championships.

"He had already broken the Scottish record, his own record and was looking forward to getting a qualifying time for the Olympics in Sydney next year."

"But athletics is a minor consideration when you think of the effect this will have on his family," he added.

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