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Still excited even on the sidelines

OUT OF ACTION: Baptiste winning his Commonwealth gold in Delhi two years ago

LEON BAPTISTE will not be taking his place on the track this summer, but he is just as excited about London 2012 as everyone else.

The 27-year-old sprinter has an arterial cartilage problem that will keep him sidelined until the end of the year,
having picked up the injury during warm weather training.

“I couldn’t walk when it happened; I had thought I was over my knee injuries. But after speaking to the doctors I decided to have the surgery, which happened three weeks ago. It’s quite hard,” Baptiste admitted.

“I was probably in the best shape I had ever been in,” the Commonwealth Games gold medallist told the Voice of Sport.

“It’s just not meant to be this year, and some people would find that hard. You’re always going to wonder what might have been if you had been there [at the Olympics],” the 200m runner conceded.

He admits he has learned from his previous injury problems, and maturity has taught him that it is important to rehabilitate properly and not rush back, in order to protect his long-term physical health.

But Baptiste knows that even without him, Team GB have some exceptional talent with the ability to make the podium.

“I think James Ellington was very impressive at the Olympic trials in Birmingham. We came through the ranks together. He struggled with injuries so I know what it’s like to have to wait until you get fit again.

“Dwain Chambers also showed that he still has that mental toughness to win, when he’s not in his best shape.

“And Perri Shakes-Drayton is phenomenally talented! She is definitely one of the stars of the future. She’s amazing and she can run anything from the 800m down, she must fancy her chances of getting to the final.”

While he recovers, Baptiste is using his life experience to inspire the next generation of athletes through Sky Sports’ Living for Sports campaign.

He said: “Having Sky’s support has given me a chance to tell my story. People just see the gold medals and think it has been easy, when it hasn’t, it’s been very difficult.”

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