Dereham athletics star Chris Baker’s rise earns him first appearance at World Indoor Championships
- Credit: PA
Dereham's Chris Baker was left jumping for joy after landing a dream call-up for this month's World Indoor Championships.
The 25-year-old high jumper has been named as part of Great Britain's squad for the illustrious event in Portland, USA, from March 17-20. It will be world number two Baker's first appearance at a global championship – after making the 2014 Commonwealth and European finals – and continues his stunning start to 2016.
The former Dereham Northgate High School pupil has been in inspired form setting a personal best while finishing second at the Hustopece Indoor Championships in Czech Republic on February 13. He eclipsed his PB of 2.28m with an impressive 2.36m, just 2cm short of Steve Smith's British indoor record. The clearance was also in excess of the 2.29m qualifying height for this year's Rio Olympics.
Baker, who started out at Dereham Runners and now competes for Sale Harriers, followed up that excellent showing by winning the British indoor title at the weekend. He saw off team-mate, London 2012 bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz, by clearing 2.29m to secure his first senior crown – securing selection for Portland in the process.
In a post on Instagram, Baker stated he was 'very proud' to be part of the GB team after 'winning my first senior title at the weekend.' The brother of well-known decathlete Francis was quick to praise his coaches Sharon Heveran and Gareth Lease before signing off with the hashtag 'every road to Rio'.
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St Neots' Grabarz will join the now Cardiff-based Norfolk star when the pair prepare to head across the Atlantic along with Olympic and world long jump champion Greg Rutherford. Sprinter James Dasalou, whose parents live in Norwich, will also be part of the travelling GB contingent.
Rutherford, bidding for his first major indoor title, is the only global champion included in a slimmed-down team of 23. The vast majority of Britain's leading names are absent, with the likes of Mo Farah, who will instead compete at the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff on March 26, Jessica Ennis-Hill, who has an Achilles problem, and Katarina Johnson-Thompson all opting to skip the event.
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Rutherford has missed his last two competitions due to a small muscle injury and then a chest infection, but still has two-and-a-half weeks to return to full fitness ahead of the American showcase.
British Athletics performance director Neil Black said: 'This is a team that has been selected on the basis that every athlete can realistically make their final, but also with an eye on their individual development looking towards the Olympics this year and the London 2017 World Championships.
'There have been some excellent performances during the indoor season and we are confident that many of those selected will be challenging for medals.'
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