Baker wins south-east England award for services to athletics

He’s a very familiar face on the Chichester-area athletics scene – and now he has been honoured for his services to the sport.

Friday, 4th December 2020, 9:45 am
Award winner Phil Baker, left, with David Worcester / Picture: Steve Robards

Phil Baker, prominent in all forms of athletics in Sussex for several decades, took the ‘services to athletics’ crown at the England Athletics South East Regional Awards 2020, held and streamed online last Friday evening.

He has been an active coach for more than 50 years and in 1984 was one of the founder members of Chichester Runners & AC, which now has over 500 members.

Baker has helped generate success for athletes at county and national level while working tirelessly to create opportunities for schoolchildren to participate in athletics and has for many years been race director for several annual events.

One is the annual Chichester Corporate Challenge road race series which, since its inception in 1992, has seen some 50,000 runners of all ages racing around the streets of Chichester over 86 separate evenings.

In addition he has been responsible for organising numerous highly successful Sussex Cross Country League and relay events in the stunning arena of Goodwood.

Watch Phil's award from 1hr 53min onwards on the video embedded above

Many readers of the Observer will be familiar with the regular articles Baker writes to report on the activities of Chichester Runners athletes which have not only kept Chichester residents informed but provided both profile and motivation for athletes of all ages and abilities.

A long held dream of Baker’s to have a running track in Chichester, recently came closer to becoming a reality with Chichester Runners, in collaboration with Chichester College, receiving planning permission for the facility on land at the college. This will provide a secure environment for athletes to train in and be a major asset for the community.

With the Chichester club, Baker was honorary secretary for 30 years and after five years as vice-president he has just taken over from David Worcester as president as Worcester stands down as president after five years.

Baker is also vice-president of the Sussex County Athletic Association, with whom he has been heavily involved for 30 years.

Worcester and a number of Chichester’s young athletes put Baker in the frame for the award, producing a video in which they described just how influential he had been.

Baker was keen to stress that he saw his award as recognition for the success of the club rather than just him as an individual.

He told those watching the awards ceremony: “The thing that has brought most pleasure is seeing all sorts of athletes who have improved, perhaps starting as newcomers and fulfilling all their potential.”

He added: “The secret of being involved in the sport is to try to earmark people who are have more skill at various at things than you have. The thing that makes or sport so enjoyable is working a team of people who are very supportive.”