Baker finally finding spot in limelight
Back-to-back Diamond League victories have brought the 24-year-old new attention as he heads to this week's U.S. national championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
No longer is Ronnie Baker that other guy in the fast lane with America's best sprinters.
A victory in Friday's 100 metres, he hopes, will earn him even more acclaim, something that has eluded the Kentucky native despite his world indoor 60m bronze medal in March and outdoor victories over world champions Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman and Canadian triple Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse the past two years.
"So I feel like overlooked is an understatement. I've been kind of like a nobody really."
The U.S. championships, despite the absence of Coleman and Gatlin, could change that.
Baker's 100m showdown with 200m sensation Noah Lyles and Olympians Mike Rodgers and Isiah Young should be one of the highlights of the four-day meeting which begins on Thursday.
All four are within one-hundredth of a second of each other with Rodgers and Young having clocked 9.92 seconds this season.
"It's definitely going to be exciting," Baker said.
"Noah (age 20) is a young guy, younger than I am. Just to see him running those times at the same time I am running now is definitely special."
The winner becomes the U.S. 100m entry in July's eight nation Athletics World Cup in London.
A quick starter, he twice won U.S. collegiate 60m honours at Texas Christian University and was the 2017 U.S. champion in the event.
Only 10 men have ever run faster under any conditions.
"Everyone has been talking about how I got faster in the last 30 to 40 metres."
But they shouldn't be surprised, Baker said.
"I think that has always been the key point in my races. I just think that I am a lot stronger now and I am starting to really learn how to execute better and be more efficient in the race.
"My coach says my start is hit or miss but he knows down at the end of the track I am going to accelerate well.
"Sixty to 100 metres is the Ronnie Baker show." (Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina, Editing by William Maclean)
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