Rising to the occasion

Matt Veno
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Baird pushes himself and teammate to excel at Canada Games

Rising to the occasion

TRURO - It's been a long and trying season for Jared Baird.
But the 20-year-old Clifton native isn't letting that stand in the way of his goal of bringing home a medal from Canada Games.
Baird has been training for the past eight months between his NCAA Division 1 season with the Winthrop University Eagles and for the Games. He's also been working to get back to peak form after a sprained elbow at the start of his NCAA season caused him to miss six weeks of progress.
"I know I'm not at my top form," Baird said. "But I'm trying for a top five and a medal would be better."
But a Jared Baird at less than 100 per cent is better than most other throwers in Canada. He was ranked No. 1 in the NCAA in March after making a 63.5m toss, which he later topped with a personal best of 64.27m in mid-April at the Sea Ray Relays in Knoxville, Tenn.
"I still think I can medal," he said. "I know I have it in me."
His coach, Larry Bridges, agrees.
"He's got the ability. I don't know what the competition is but he should be able to get to within two or three metres of his personal best," Bridges said.
"He rises to the occasion. When it comes to the big meets he usually does well."
Baird knows there are several strong throwers from the western provinces he could be up against, but added he isn't sure if they'll be at the P.E.I. event or not.
Naturally, Baird is a much better thrower than when he first started at Winthrop two years ago. The experience and knowledge he's gained is trickling down to his 17-year-old teammate and Stewiacke resident Annalyse Myers.
Previously Myers, who had no coaching before, threw the javelin on raw talent. But Bridges and Baird have helped transform the way she throws.
"I had to relearn it all," Myers said.
Bridges said Myers training with Baird this summer has given Myers an excellent opportunity to learn from one of the best. In fact, Baird has taken on a significant amount of the coaching duties this summer. He sends text messages to Myers about practice changes, helps her warm up, conducts workouts and offers tips on technique.
"It's been a big help and he has a lot of knowledge to pass on," Bridges said. "It's a big opportunity for her to get to train with him.
"He's able to show her how to stretch and how your body should rotate, where I can't do that stuff, I can only tell her."
Since Myers is still getting used to her new throwing style, she doesn't know what to expect from herself at the Games.
"I'm going to be one of the younger throwers there so I'm just going to have fun," she said. "But a new personal best would be
awesome."
Aside from the physical aspect of the sport, Baird's experience at NCAA meets has also allowed him to help Myers prepare mentally for the Games.
"At your first big meet you can get overwhelmed," he said. "People are going to try to intimidate you and win it in practice but you just have to go out there and not worry about what everyone else is doing.
"When you're up against the top 15 or 20 in the NCAA every weekend you get used to that."

sports@trurodaily.com

Organizations: Canada Games, NCAA, Winthrop University Eagles

Geographic location: Canada, Knoxville, Tenn., Stewiacke

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