Good things come to those who wait. Just ask UC San Diego junior hurdler Leon Baham. After seeing a promising 2008 campaign cut short by a hamstring injury, the likeable Redlands, Calif. native has been a standout for the Tritons in 2009. He’s looking to cap his season with a big performance at the NCAA Division II Championships this weekend in San Angelo, Texas. Three weeks ago, he was a double winner at the CCAA Championships, posting lifetime bests of 14.58 in the 110 high hurdles and 53.10 in the 400 intermediates, but he will be running only the latter at the NCAA meet. “Things have really come together beautifully for Leon as the season’s progressed,” said his coach, Darcy Ahner. “At the conference championships, he showed the level of poise and confidence he has. It was a shining moment, but he knows there’s more there. It’s going to be exciting this week.” A man of few words, Baham took time out from his meet preparation to talk about his events, his sport and the upcoming Championships.
Q: When did you start competing in the intermediate hurdles?
BAHAM: Ninth grade.
Q: Which race is tougher, the 400 intermediate or the 110 high hurdles? Which one do you like best?
BAHAM: Metaphorically, the 400's are my spouse and the 110's are my lover. Should I explain more? Probably not...
Q: Talk about the strategy in the 400 hurdles. What are the keys to running a great race?
BAHAM: Confidence. Before each race I tell myself that nothing has happened yet, that any outcome is possible, that I can run faster than I know. Also angling my blocks.
Q: Are there any hurdlers you've admired? Emulated?
BAHAM: (Former UCSD teammate) Khalil Hooper.
Q: Who would win a race between yourself, Laiah Blue and Christine Merrill?
BAHAM: What kind of race? Boats? Horses? I feel like Christine would probably be really good at riding horses for some reason. Boats though, I don't know.
Q: Were you pleased with your performances at the CCAA Championships?
BAHAM: Yes, I knew what I was capable of and I did it. Mostly, I was impressed with the team as a whole dealing with the rain like it wasn't there.
Q: Who is the most deserving member of the UCSD men's track & field team who did not make the NCAA Championship field?
BAHAM: Scott (Tsuda) should be here. Everyone knows it. But some years certain events become incredibly competitive. That was the case this year in the triple jump. What I am trying to say is, I miss him.
Q: What effect has Coach Darcy Ahner had on your performance? What's the one most important thing she's brought to your hurdling?
BAHAM: Everything, She's the reason I am here.
Q: Have you ever crashed in a hurdles race?
BAHAM: Plenty of times. It's part of the event.
Q: If you could be a star in any other sport, what would it be?
BAHAM: Ultimate fighting or rhythmic gymnastics.
Q: What are some of your interests away from track & field?
BAHAM: Puppies and stained glass windows.
Q: What reality show could you win?
BAHAM: Meerkat Manor.
Q: What was the last book you read?
BAHAM: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid in the World.
Q: What's on your iPod right before a big race?
BAHAM: No electronic devices on the infield.
Q: What would make this weekend in San Angelo a success?
BAHAM: I'm racing for first. I'll tell you how I feel on Sunday.