NEW national men’s under-18 400 metres champion Sam Baird lines up in Perth tonight in a bid to qualify for the World Youth Track and Field Championships.
Baird is chasing a second world youth qualifying time over the distance at the Perth Track Classic to earn a trip to Donetsk in the Ukraine on July 10-14.
The Ballarat youngster received an invitation to take on open company in the classic after snaring gold in the championships in Perth.
He won in 47.78 seconds – well inside the qualifying time of 48.2.
This is also the fastest under-18 400m in the world this year.
His coach Peter O’Dwyer said Baird had until Monday to meet the selection criteria for the worlds, making the invitation crucial for his hopes.
Baird, 17, is running in the best form of his fledgling career.
Having only taken up running seriously in October last year, he set the professional circuit alight by taking out the prestigious Black Opal 400m at Bendigo on Sunday.
He hardly had time to savour the special moment before packing for Perth.
O’Dwyer said Baird had peaked for the Black Opal.
“It’s been a massive week.”
And it continued yesterday when he collected another gold medal as a member of the Victorian under-18 4x400m relay team.
Victoria ran three minutes, 15.88 seconds – edging out New South Wales by just 1.1 seconds.
Baird was joined by fellow Ballarat runner Liam Procaccino in the relay team.
Procaccino ran the third leg and handed the baton to Baird.
This gives Prococcino two medals.
He ran his way to a silver medal in the under-17 400m in 49.5.