Business After Sport With Jamie Baulch

Jamie Baulch on giving back, and the Christmas tree effect.

I’m sat in David Lloyd, with Welsh sporting legend Jamie Baulch; Olympic silver medallist and 3 x World Champion and to-this-day 400 metre British record holder – after almost a quarter of a century.

How did you get started as an athlete?

I was at sports day, 10 years old, running in the obstacle raise, which consisted of 10 metres with the egg and spoon, hurdle a wooden bench, 10 metre sack race, then under a crash mat and sprint finish to the end. I got confused and lost under the crash mat and kinda came out the wrong end, my teacher shouted that I needed to go back and do that last obstacle again, but I thought at the time that he meant to start the race again, so in my confusion ran, did the whole race again, and still won! My talent was spotted, and my Mum and Grandad dropped me off at the Newport Harriers on the following Tuesday.

I was always small, and competing against kids with beards at 12,13,14,15 – so was always coming third and getting beaten. It wasn’t until I got to 16/17 where I was as mature physically as they were – and then started ‘properly’ winning.

My ten first ‘real’ big race was The British Championships up in Stoke, where I ran against Darren Campbell (who was huge at the time) and came second in the 200 meters.

I then represented Great Britain in Spain, won the race and broke the Welsh record (taking it from Colin Jackson).

Because I always used to get beaten when I was younger, it was a really good learning curve for me. It taught me to be a gracious loser, and then on to be eventually a gracious winner – which I’m very grateful for.

In 1991, I was a 200 and 100 metre runner, not a 400-metre runner which I eventually became known for. The jump from being a successful junior, standing in 1st place on the podium, ahead of the Americans, in Seoul to then the seniors – where my first race is competing against Linford Christie, John Regis, Darren Campbell – is SO BIG! In ‘92, Linford won the Olympics, in ‘93 – little old me is running against him. It was like being back at sports day! I’m running against the world – not just people my age! ‘93 and ‘94 were tough years.

It was in ‘94, in the Commonwealth Games, my life changed forever. Colin Jackson asked if I’d like him to be my coach! I was blown away! He was the best in the world! He flew me to America business class to his house to live, and to train with Linford Christie, Merlene Ottey, Mark McKoy, Frankie Fredericks, Darren Campbell – athletics elite. I was living the dream. Then in 1996, I got myself a silver medal – he took me from good to REALLY GOOD. I owe him a lot.

What do you need to be an athlete?

You need the talent and the correct physical make up, and a bit of luck. After that, you then need all the right attributes – the mindset, the skill, the desire, nutrition, having the right people around you.

I call it the Christmas Tree Effect. If you want to be the star on the Christmas tree – you need a bunch of branches to get you to the top – they are branches of success. One branch is support from my parents, one is Colin, one is my nutrition, one is environment, etc.

Paying it back

I was always so grateful to Colin and got my chance to thank him when I became an ambassador for Jaguar cars, and my first athlete that I gifted a car to was Colin. Seeing that smile on his face and being able to a part of that made me so proud.

At what age did you retire?

32, in 2005. Funny story – I was travelling back and forth to America, in and out and it was my fifth time in a year entering the country. I got to customs and was met with such a hostile officer and grilling that I thought, do you know what, I’m done. I went to see my coach straight from the airport and said, ‘’I’m tired, I’m done.’’ I was really missing my two kids back in the UK, I had given my life to athletics and was physically and mentally exhausted. And that was that. 400 metres is a horrible event – the training to race at that level – I’d run 10.1 seconds down the back straight of the 400 meters, Usain Bolt’s record is 9.5 – it was tough!

At what part in your career do you start thinking…what’s next?

Luckily, I knew, from the beginning. I wasn’t a runner. It was something I did, not what I was. It was just a job.

Was there support in place to help you with that transition and to prepare you ahead of that time?

No one ever teaches you about ‘the end’. Nothing happens when you retire – no celebration, no support financially, mentally, physically. I was lucky – I jumped straight into ‘my next job’. For others, they aren’t so lucky.

And what was next for you?

I was always very creative, so I retired from athletics on the Monday, and in the same week I booked a meeting with the WRU to pitch them me taking over their annual calendar, which I thought was awful and wanted to better for them. They said yes, and I built them their most successful calendar to date in terms of sales and visual appeal, and then obtained a licence from them to generate and sell Welsh rugby sports memorabilia. We had an amazing partnership for several years, until they started selling the memorabilia themselves, effectively directly competing with me, so we sadly had to part ways as it made it not viable for me as a business

I then went on to sell my own sports memorabilia, across all sports, which was a huge success, and developed this into a silent auction company; Bid Aid, which generates income for myself, but also supports a number of worldwide charities. I’m very proud of what we do.

How did you find going from a very physical job, to a business job?

The skills are very transferable. VERY different but there are some similarities. Hard work, dedication, drive, etc.

What’s been your big wins in athletics, and in business?

In athletics – for sure The World Indoor Championships in Japan in 1999, becoming the world champion, and calling my Dad as I did the victory lap to tell him. We were both so emotional and I was so so proud to give something back to him after everything he’d done for me. As an adopted child – he literally gave me life!
In business, the feeling of giving back to charity – every single ‘deal’ I do, a huge part of it raises money for charities, so being able to fulfil that, and make a profit for my business, as well as giving the customer a unique product – is huge for me. Happiness from all angles.

How would you measure your happiness in terms of the two careers?

Nothing will ever beat standing on an Olympic rostrum. But my big wins in business are a close (ish) second.


Visit to see Jamie’s busines venture.