Ronnie Baker has no shortage of accomplishments. He’s a Professional Athlete for Nike, 2017 USA 60m Champion at a flying 6.45, and 2x NCAA 60m Champion. This man is one of the fastest people in history. Coming from humble beginnings, Ronnie attributes a lot of his success to his work ethic, family, and faith. We sat down with this young (he’s only 23) and upcoming athlete to learn why he does what he does.
Can you give an overview of your running career? When did it start, where are you now? What inspired you to first get into sprints?
I began running when I was in elementary school back in Anchorage, Alaska. I began running cross country in 3rd grade and continued that until my 8th-grade year. I didn’t start running track until my 6th-grade year. I don’t really remember how I got into it besides being the fastest kid in my elementary school and middle school. We found that out through field days and races in gym class and through my love of basketball. After many coaches and teachers realized my talent they just suggested I run track and I think that’s how I really got started in 6th grade.
Was there a particular event early on that made you determine that you were going to pursue running for as long as you have? On the other end, was there ever anything that made you want to walk away from the sport?
There wasn’t really a particular event. I believe the determining factor for me pursuing track as long as I have was really the fact that being in a single parent home in high school, I really didn’t have the money to go to college. I knew that in order to have a better life I needed to make it big in sport or have a college degree to get a nice job. So I played basketball in high school to pursue my dreams of being in the NBA. However, after my junior year in high school, I knew that track and field was going to pay my college tuition and it ultimately got me a full ride at TCU. From that point, I had never really thought of the idea of being a professional runner. I just wanted to be the best at everything I did and one of those things was track. That soon transformed into wanting NCAA titles and being the fastest collegian and then eventually [fastest] man in the world. I also believe that coaches and teammates are what helped me stick in the sport. I just remember in high school having so much fun at practice and meets with the group of guys we had at my high school, Ballard. We were a goofy bunch of kids and that, as well as how much our coach cared about us and pushed me specifically to challenge myself and my teammates, was a huge factor in me staying in the sport.
When did you feel at your lowest point? What got you through those hard times?
I have a few low points. I think my lowest point had to be last summer, and a lot of my last year in college competing for TCU. I had a nagging hamstring injury that I couldn’t quite get solved all year. It resulted in me running very few meets and participating in few practices. I never really could quite pull myself over that hump. Although my coach said I was ready to run fast, I just wasn’t myself that entire year. I ended up not making the NCAA final in the 100m which was one of my goals because I had never accomplished making it to an individual final at that stage. Also, that year I didn’t make the olympic trials final and ended up stagnant as far as my times all of last year. What got me through it was my faith and just trusting in God that everything would come full circle and that I would bounce back. Also, lots of encouraging words from my friends, family, and girlfriend at the time. I really wouldn’t be where I am at today without the huge support system I have back home and around TCU.
Over your many years of training, what are some important lessons you have learned?
The most important lesson is that less sometimes really is more. Also that whenever you feel like quitting in workouts and when things get hard you need to have something you think about to help you push through. For me it’s things like my family, or the thought of winning, or how bad I’ll feel later if I quit now, knowing someone else is pushing their limits and getting better.
If you had any advice to give to a high school runner (or a younger you) who wants to be a professional runner, what would it be?
To all my high school runners out there, being great starts with doing the little things. For instance going to bed and getting proper rest or eating the apple instead of the chocolate chip cookie (and this doesn’t have to be every time.) Lastly, I would say to put your goals where you can see them. I am a strong believer in the vision board. This is because the year I created one — my junior year of college — I won a national title, was the fastest man in the world at one point, and got to travel, which was all on my board. Seeing your goals is massively important.
What is your next goal to beat?
My next goal is to make a major championship team — hopefully this year for London 2017!
Why do you do what you do? What makes it all worth it?
I love this sport, and I mainly do this to prove to myself and others that God can do anything. He can take anyone and use them for his purpose. I do this because I want to show the world that with hard work, determination, a sound mind, and a little faith, nothing is out of your reach; whether that is track and field or being a musical sauvant. It doesn’t matter what you want to accomplish in life. Everything is possible, no matter your background or where you come from.
To me, what makes it all worth it is the happiness of being successful, knowing all my hard work is paying off, and seeing the big smile on my mom’s face when she sees me happy and doing what I love. I do this mainly for my family, my mother, and my two younger siblings Rhyan and Aleah Baker. I want to be able to provide a life full of the things we never got to do growing up. I want to see the smiles on their faces knowing that their big brother loves and cares about them and is using them as his biggest motivator to never give up on his dreams.
You can follow Ronnie on Instagram: ronnie_baker14