Brilliant Baptiste beats former Olympic champion
Thursday, 04 February 2010
By Dominique Stafford
SPRINTER Leon Baptiste enjoyed one of the best victories of his career on Saturday as he overcame a strong field including former Olympic champion Shawn Crawford to win the 200metres at the Aviva International in Glasgow.
Competing for Great Britain against teams from the United States of America, Sweden, Germany and a Commonwealth Select squad, the 24-year-old from Enfield and Haringey Athletic Club was only expected to finish in third or fourth place in his event.
But Baptiste took full advantage of a blistering start – usually one of the weak points of his race – to pull clear of the field, and he held off a storming finish from Germany’s Robert Hering to cross the line in a time of 21.34seconds.
Antiguan Brendan Christian came third running for the Commonwealth, while Crawford – Olympic champion in 2004 and world indoor champion over the distance nine years ago – was a distant fourth.
Baptiste had said prior to the race that he felt honoured to have been given the chance to race against Crawford, and he was understandably thrilled to have won the race.
“I’m really pleased,” he said. “I was inspired by the guys in the race. Trying to compete against those guys is what I’m about.
“It gives me a lot of confidence going into the outdoor season. Unfortunately they don’t do 200m at the World Indoor Championships, but that performance puts me in really good shape.
“I’m in the sport to win Olympic medals and World Championship medals. Obviously this year I’ve got the Europeans, and hopefully that is what I’m aiming for.”
Baptiste’s run helped a British team captained by world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis to secure overall victory in the event.
Meanwhile, Jon Pepper produced a superb run to claim a silver medal at the South of England cross country Championships at Parliament Hill on Saturday
The 21-year-old from Enfield and Haringey Athletic Club was part of a four-man group who broke away from the main field during the first of three laps in the senior 15km race.
Pepper and Bedford’s Neilson Hall then pulled clear of the chasing duo on the second lap and, although Hall eventually claimed the win, Pepper deservedly finished second to claim his first major senior medal.
And Jordan Huggins continued his stunning form by storming to victory in the London Games’ under-20 60metres at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre.