Bedford SportsAid guest Jamie Baulch: interview

IT’S often said you’re never busier than when you retire.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 19th March 2012, 8:44 am

We speak to former Olympic sprinter Jamie Baulch, now a successful businessman and speaker, who is the star guest at this year’s Bedford SportsAid lunch.

IT’S often said you’re never busier than when you retire.

Of course, when you’re a sportsman, that decision to hang up your training gear on competitive action for good can come quite early in life, and prove a tough transition.

But for British Olympic sprinter Jamie Baulch that was something he was never too worried about - and so it has turned out as his diary now is as busy as ever.

It’s seven years since he last took to the track in competitive action after a glittering career laden with medals.

But in that time he has carved out a very successful second career.

Now his many commitments take in running his sports management company, motivational speaking, active roles with a number of sponsors, and varied media work. But he takes them all in his stride - and with that trademark energy and smile.

Jamie said: “Even when I was an athlete I was very switched on at the time to what I would do next, which I would say is different to most other sportsmen. Some people wish they were still doing it, and struggle to get over it.

“I was very methodical about things, I wanted to have a plan to what I did next with my life. Running was a job. It was a job I loved, but it was a job.”

It was a job he excelled at too. Jamie, now 38, is probably best remembered to millions as a member of Britain’s outstanding 4x400m men’s relay team in the late nineties and early noughties.

They won silver in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, before earning gold at the 1997 World Championships in Athens the following year - an honour belatedly bestowed after the first team over the line, USA, were disqualified after Antonio Pettigrew admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Jamie enjoyed considerable success on his own too, winning the gold medal in the 400m at the World Indoor Championships in 1999.

That was all in the future when a teenage Jamie was putting in the hours around South Wales. And that’s when SportsAid came to his assistance.

“It’s one of those organisations that can take you from one level to the next level, on that path to being that Olympic athlete,” said Jamie.

“The funding you are given gives you that extra piece of mind. If you don’t have that big first sponsorship deal, SportsAid gives you that little bit of cash. Not everyone’s parents or guardians may be able to fund you so this can give a bit of financial relief.

“You’re then able to buy your first pair of decent running shoes, a tracksuit, etc. Maybe even some money towards some physio, or massages.”

“I have been that person. You’re 16 or 17 years old, all your mates are going out clubbing, meeting girls, and someone comes along with this support which helps you to keep going.

“And that’s why, 20 years on, I’m happy to give something back to SportsAid.”

The launch of the Jamie Baulch Academy also focuses on developing young talent and sees Jamie and fellow sports personalities in schools across England and Wales.

2012 promises to be a golden year for sport, with the Olympics as the highlight. Jamie said: “It is the Blue Riband event in track and field sport.

“It is what we all live for and to have it in London is fantastic - I wish I was ten years younger! But I’m very excited to be on the other side of things now.”

He will remain heavily involved in the Games off the track, supporting numerous athletes.

And what does he think of the hopes of Bedford’s golden girl, Paula Radcliffe?

He said: “If she can get back to the levels she was at before, she has a chance. She is an incredible athlete.

“Marathon runners can go on a little longer. We are roughly the same age, but if you asked me to run 400 metres now that’s not happening!

“If she does it, great, and if she doesn’t, she’s still had a great career.”

Expect funny anecdotes and stories from Jamie’s athletics career, and more about his move from sport into business at the Bedford SportsAid lunch on Friday, May 11.

Bedford SportsAid lunch takes place at Bedford Rugby Club on Friday, May 11 and is sponsored by Woodfines, The Embankment Hotel, MacIntyre Hudson, Bedford Blues and the Times & Citizen.

Tickets cost £27.50 per person, or £275 for a table of ten. For details and to book please email Sally Peck at [email protected] or Nicola Adcock at [email protected]