Narellan Vale teenager David Baker is one of the region’s brightest athletics stars.
A member of Camden athletics club, Baker has been rewarded for his excellent performances with a scholarship at the South West Sydney Academy of Sport (SWSAS), through its Wests Future Stars program.
Baker is the current NSW junior champion in the 3000m and NSW all schools champion in the 5000m.
On the national stage he has already achieved some very solid results including a 13th in the 5000m.
He won the Fishers Ghost fun run in the open division and has also won his age division in the world’s biggest fun run, the City2Surf.
Last year Baker covered the 14 kilometres from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach in just 47 minutes.
The teenager developed a love of running through the global phenomenon that is Parkrun.
He is often running the streets of Campbelltown on a Sunday morning as he goes for a 15 kilometre jog with his friends at the Campbelltown Joggers Club.
Academy sports program manager James Watson, who is himself an accomplished distance runner, is very positive about Baker’s prospects.
“I have watched David race many times; along with his obvious talent he has another gift – he just loves to race.
“David has that ability to just keep pushing his limits when every muscle in his body is screaming at him to stop.
“Determination and a willingness to suffer are very hard qualities to teach,’’ Mr Watson said.
“David brings these qualities in bucket loads. He is very tough.”
Through the Wests Future Stars program SWSAS has engaged former Olympic coach Sean Williams to oversee the teenager star’s development.
Williams, a highly regarded coach who specialises in endurance athletics.
He coached dual Olympian Ben St Lawrence to a national record in the 5000m.
“This is a very hard sport and the climb to the top takes many, many years,’’ Watson said.
“There are numerous factors to be considered and with David currently committed to his HSC studies time management and general wellbeing are important factors.
“A holistic approach and patience are key because burnout and injury are very real factors.
“David would race every weekend if he could, so engaging the right people to make sure we get the balance right is our job.’’
David Baker is currently in cross-country mode and will be a strong contender at NSW All Schools Cross Country Championship to be held on July 27.
For more information about Wests Future Stars scholarships visit www.swsas.org.au or contact Gerry Knights on 02 4627 7622.