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Louisville native Ronnie Baker going for gold in Tokyo

The sprinter talks about the Tokyo Olympics just days before he leaves to compete.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Opening ceremonies for the Tokyo Olympics is just one day away and a Louisville native is hoping that at the end of the games he'll be called the fastest man in track and field.

It's the race 27-year-old Ronnie Baker has dreamed of and trained for all his life. Now, he's just a few days away from making that dream come true. 

He Told WHAS11's Sherlene Shanklin he's a product of West Louisville, JCPS and most of his family lives in Louisville.

“I went to Ballard and Highland Middle. I lived in the west end and grew up in Village West. My whole family is there actually. My mom, my brother moved back, my sister is there. Pretty much even my extended family is there," Baker said.

Baker started with cross country and then later became a sprinter. It all happened after a coach watched him compete.

“They saw me run and they were like hey you should go out for the track team. That's when I started running track. That conversation I had on field day. I always had the speed. I just did not know where to put it," Baker said.

Now, he will head to Tokyo, but it will be much different than he dreamed. He's missing the opening ceremonies due to the flight schedule and no fans. 

When asked what he needs to run to win gold, Baker said, “I don't know what it is going to take because Tokyo is going to be different, you know. Tokyo is not going to have spectators so the atmosphere, kinda the crowd, the energy, that's not going to be there. Crossing multiple time zones and jet lag could be a factor."

Credit: AP
Ronnie Baker wins the fourth heat of the men's 100-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Winning the 100 meters in Monaco, the last big meet before the games, Baker said, "That race was a good momentum booster, motivational. Like… It gives me momentum going into the Olympics. I think it was great for me being there and to experience with all the guys potentially be running against in events as well.”

Baker went on to say, “This is when you do a lot of light work and focusing on the small, I mean the tiniest things that are the difference between gold and silver.”

Baker will run in the 100 meters on July 31 and then he will be a member of the four by 100 relay team. His wife and mother will watch with other families in Orlando at Disney World while his family in Louisville will be apart of a couple of watch parties cheering him onto gold.

Shanklin has been in contact with Baker this week and said he sounded confident and relaxed leading up to the biggest race of his career thus far.

Here’s a fun fact: Former Olympian and Kentucky native Tyson Gay and Baker are cousins. So, running literally runs in the family.

►Contact Your Story’s Sherlene Shanklin at sshanklin@whas11.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.