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Olympics2000

Tuesday, 22 August, 2000, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
An Olympic tyre-fitter
Baldock (right) grabs second at the UK Olympic trials
Baldock (right) grabs second at the UK Olympic trials
In all the furore about the non-selection of Iwan Thomas for the British Olympic team in the individual 400m, the story of Sean Baldock has rather been lost.

He is the virtual unknown - at least outside of athletics circles - who will be going to Sydney after finishing second in the British Olympic trials.

Baldock, 23, who has lived in the Sussex seaside town of Hastings all his life, is so new to top-flight competition that he doesn't yet have an agent.

And his finances are so tight he stills works three days a week - as a tyre-fitter.


I'm usually ill after every race, physically sick from exertion, and when that happens I ask myself why I'm doing it.
  Sean Baldock
"I usually do 8.30am to 5.30pm," he says, "but sometimes I get to dinner-time and I'm really tired.

"If I've got training in the evening, the boss is really good and tells me to go home. If it wasn't for that support, I couldn't do it."

Exhausting

Perversely it is this exhausting work which may explain Baldock's fine form this season.

"Because of the job, I haven't really done weights all year," he says.

"I know some people think they're vital, but I'm lifting the whole day anyway, often stuff that's really heavy. And that's my weight-training there. I don't think I need to go to the gym."

Baldock admits he gets nervous before most big races. But during the trials, everything clicked.

"Through the heats, the semi and final I was just enjoying myself," he says.

Sick
Baldock in action for Great Britain
Baldock in action for Great Britain

"I'm usually ill after every race, physically sick from exertion, and when that happens I ask myself why I'm doing it.

"But I do love running - I'll run again today if I get the chance. I get a real buzz from it."

He has a unique plan for handling the pressure of the Olympics - a method it's probably safe to say won't be the one used by world record-holder Michael Johnson.

"Basically I'll stay at home in Hastings with my family. I know it will help me keep my feet on the ground. And I'll keep working till then, three days a week."

Football

Baldock only took up running seriously in 1996. Before then he was more likely to be found on the football pitch rather than the athletics track.

"I played football all the way through to 18 years old with Hastings Town, but I kept getting silly niggles which messed up my training," he says.


I'm an Everton fan and I'd sign for them now if they offered me a contract
  Sean Baldock
" When I hit 18 my coach said to me, right, either you do athletics for fun and football seriously, or you give football up and run instead. I thought I'd give it a bash for a few years, came on leaps and bounds and decided to ditch the football."

Could he have made it as a footballer?

"Possibly. I was pretty fast on the wing, but it's difficult to tell.

Best

"Football's a matter of opinion, but in athletics I can run a PB and turn round and say, that's how good I am. With football, some people might say Pele's the best player ever and some might say Maradona - it's all about opinion.

"There's also no clubs near me - Brighton's the nearest, and if that doesn't work out it's Charlton. But I'd love to be a footballer. I'm an Everton fan and I'd sign for them now if they offered me a contract."

Baldock admits he is surprised as anybody about his tilt at Olympic glory.

"To make the team now is unbelievable. Me and my coach Mark Gregory thought the relay was a possibility, but if that didn't happen it was getting on with it and training hard for 2004.

"When I first started running, I was only looking at 2004, at winning gold then, and whatever we did up to then was a bonus."

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See also:

15 Aug 00 |  Wales
Thomas livid over Sydney snub
15 Aug 00 |  Team GB
Baulch gets Olympic nod
13 Aug 00 |  Athletics-Track
Richardson confident of Sydney spot
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