Olympic sprinter Ronnie Baker fulfills longtime promise to Willow Crest Elementary School teacher

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 11:00 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Ronnie Baker is fast, and realized his talent at a young age during his time at Willow Crest Elementary School in Anchorage.

“No one could beat me in anything,” Baker said.

Now, Baker is an Olympic athlete who will compete in the 100-meter dash at the Tokyo Games. Fifteen years later, Baker’s grade school gym teacher Leroy Jones recalls how difficult it was trying to get kids to keep up with him.

“He was such an athlete I had to constantly think of ways to challenge him,” Jones said. “We gave other kids head starts, have other students running relays, and have him catch up.”

Baker’s time at Willow Crest was brief — he moved in fifth grade to Louisville, Kentucky, where he was born. Before leaving, he told Jones about his plans for the future.

“I told him when I make the Olympic team are you still going to be here?” Baker said.

In high school, Baker went on to win Kentucky Gatorade Track and Field High School Athlete of the year twice and won two national championships at Texas Christian University.

In June, the 27-year-old fulfilled his promise to Jones, qualifying for the Olympics after a second-place finish in the 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon.

Back in Alaska, Jones said he plans to watch his former student on the world’s biggest stage and is proud of him for accomplishing his dream.

“He will always be an Alaskan,” Jones said proudly.

The Olympic sprinter is expected to be a medal contender after a personal best of 9.85 seconds at the trials, finishing a fifth of a second behind Trayvon Bromell who took first place.

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