Baird hoping to turn a few heads as he finds form in the sprints

Ballarat runner Sam Baird is set for a jam-packed weekend at the Ballarat Gift as he sets his sights on the men’s 120m sprint – and he’s hoping to “turn a few heads”.

Baird has traditionally been a 400m runner, but this season he has moved his focus to the sprint events in a bid to improve his 400m running in the long-term.

Baird, part of the Peter O’Dwyer stable, has been working closely with coach O’Dwyer on building towards a more explosive athlete – and the early signs are good.

Baird claimed victory in the 120m at Castlemaine in January and will come off 5.5m at the weekend, making him a genuine threat in the field.

"The win at Castlemaine a couple of weeks ago shows we're moving well speed-wise,” Baird said.

“I felt really good and we came away with what we wanted.

"We've really been focusing on that speed development...I'm in really good form in regards to that – hopefully we can turn a few heads.

“I really think we are there abouts on the new mark, I really want to slot into the final and it’d be a really good showing for the POD Squad (Peter O’Dwyer squad).”

Baird will also race in the 70m and 400m events, but the focus remains on his sprint speed.

Peter O'Dwyer and Sam Baird

Peter O'Dwyer and Sam Baird

Baird, who will turn 22 on Saturday, is still hoping to qualify for the Commonwealth Games’ 4x400m team while the Stawell Gift will also be in his schedule calculations.

Baird said this season was a positive step towards his long-term athletics goal and he explained how improving his sprinting would benefit his 400m times.

“To be a super elite 400m runner you’ve got to have elite speed.

“So the next step in my progression as a 400m runner was to get myself running those good times over the 100m, which will reflect in my 400 when I have those big reserves.

“This season is mainly a stepping stone in my athletics career. I’ll come out of it with strength behind me and that real speed.”

The Ballarat Gift will be held across Saturday and Sunday at Wendouree’s CE Brown Reserve with the first event beginning at 8.45am.