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Helping hand for high jumper

PUBLISHED: 09:47 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 14:40 07 July 2010

High jumper Chris Baker who will benefit from new funding.

High jumper Chris Baker who will benefit from new funding.

Dereham high jumper Chris Baker is already dreaming of representing Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics after being handpicked to benefit from new funding.

Dereham high jumper Chris Baker is already dreaming of representing Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics after being handpicked to benefit from new funding.

The 17-year-old, who represents Enfield and Haringey AC, is one of 250 emerging Brits that will receive £1,000 each year from Lloyds TSB as part of their Local Heroes initiative in the run up to London 2012 - plugging a financial gap as Baker is yet to achieve World Class lottery funding.

Baker is currently ranked 20th in the country after a successful year that saw him land the England Indoor under-20 title in February before he set a new personal best of 2.09m on his way to second place during June's outdoor equivalent.

And with a host of talented youngsters targeting Olympic places for the 2012 Games, The Dereham Sixth Form College pupil is keeping his fingers crossed the added funding gives him the edge.

“This grant could be just the boost I need to push for international honours and hopefully I will achieve my ultimate goal of competing at London 2012,” said Baker - who will also be eligible for one-on-one mentoring from Lloyds ambassador and British Olympian Jonathan Edwards and Paralympic basketball ace Ade Adepitan.

“At the moment there are 50 or so athletes like me who have shown some potential and come 2012 probably only two will get that opportunity.

“But I have made the commitment to athletics and if I keep working hard and continue to progress then it is definitely something I can achieve.”

Baker - whose brother, Frances, has represented Great Britain at under-20 level in the decathlon - underlined his potential with silver at this year's English School's Senior Championships last month.

And former Olympic and World Champion Edwards, who still holds the triple jump world record, is predicting a golden future for Baker.

“There is a lot of money in sport now through the lottery but Chris is not quite good enough just yet to take advantage,” said Edwards.

“He still makes a huge commitment in time and money in order to do what he does and he doesn't get a lot back. This relieves a bit of pressure and gives him a boost.

“Sport can be lonely so when someone comes along and believes in you enough to give you £1,000 it makes you realise you will make it after all.”

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