Baird left with career-defining decision after record throw
DARTMOUTH – With one throw, Jared Baird gave himself a lot to think about.
It has been two years since Baird put his university career behind him – a glamorous four-year ride at Winthrop University in the NCAA’s top tier of throwers. With the best training available at his fingertips, Baird was throwing at his all-time best, and set a benchmark at 71.30 metres in 2012.
Since then, things have been rocky. He tried training while working a full-time job, and found himself falling behind his opponents. Giving up work this year to focus on training, Baird gave himself an ultimatum – one year of paying his own way to prove he belonged at the highest level, or he’d retire.
Since then, nagging injuries have hampered the Lower Barns native, including a pulled groin that wouldn’t quit. In June, he watched his training partner, Caleb Jones, throw 75.39 metres at the national finals, placing second in the country. Baird, hoping to beat his personal best, came up short with a 68.91, and finished fifth.
Confounded by injuries, frustration and a lack of progress, his future in the sport began to look more and more in doubt.
But as he told the Truro Daily News in June, javelin is a sport where “all it takes is one good throw.”
On Saturday, Baird finally made that throw.
“I felt like it was two years in the making,” he said. “So much work, so much effort, it all went into that throw.”
After a seed toss of 70.89 metres, the old familiar feel of a rocket throw began coming back to Baird. If he was going to beat his personal best, it was going to be today.
“It felt good to be able to go into the final and go after that last throw with confidence,” he said. “Having that feeling makes all the difference.”
On his final throw of the day, Baird beat his 2012 personal best at Winthrop University with a 71.46. While it only edged out the previous best by less than a metre, it might as well have been a mile.
“It’s a huge monkey off my back, just the biggest relief.”
But along with the relief comes more to ponder – is the new P.B. enough to continue training full-time?
“It definitely makes things difficult,” Baird said. “Had I not made a good throw today, I would have confidently stopped.”
While he was enjoying his success over the weekend, Baird will now take the next few weeks to make a decision on whether to give up or forge on.
Adding to his list of things to think about, the world’s premier javelin throwers don’t typically hit their prime until age 30.
“I know there’s a lot left in the tank, so to be left with this feeling, it gives me a lot to think about,” he said. “There’s definitely a bit of hope, knowing I still have a few years to develop, but the cost of it makes it hard to compete.”
With the men’s javelin final also taking place at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, on Saturday, Baird’s 71.46-metre throw would have been good for ninth place at the international games.
“It’s nice to know now that at least I belong, at least I can compete on a world stage and the option is there.”