Winston-Salem Native Kathleen Baker Falls Short In Bid For Tokyo Olympics

Winston-Salem Native Kathleen Baker Falls Short In Bid For Tokyo Olympics

4:18pm Jun 21, 2021
Kathleen Baker speaks with the media during an appearance in Winston-Salem after the 2016 Olympics. PAUL GARBER/WFDD FILE

Olympic medalist and Winston-Salem native Kathleen Baker has fallen short in her efforts to make this summer’s Tokyo games.

Baker’s final shot for this year’s Olympics came down to a Saturday night championship heat of the women’s 200 backstroke. 

Before the trials, Baker posted on social media that a freak accident last month left her with a fractured bone in her foot. She said then that she was still able to get in the pool every day and was focused on making the roster.

Only the top two finishers in the heat qualify. Regan Smith — who entered the race as the world record holder and had already qualified in the 100-meter event — was considered the favorite. But Baker would have still made the cut if she had finished as runner-up. 

It didn’t happen that way though, as Smith finished third and Baker finished fifth.

Baker made the 2016 Olympics roster following her freshman year at the University of California at Berkeley. In Rio, she earned a silver medal in the 100-meter backstroke and a gold as part of the 4x100-meter medley relay. 

She briefly returned to Winston-Salem after the Olympics, where she was greeted by hundreds of fans and given a key to the city.

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