SUNDERLAND heavyweight Warren Baister is plotting success in the World Championships after the most disappointing year of his career.
The 27-year-old is resting after overcoming a complicated ankle injury which sidelined him for months.
But the Sunderland ABC boxer plans to begin his preparations early next month for the World Championships in Kazakhstan and get his career on the move again.
This time last year, the Sunderland fighter was still reeling from failing to make the cut for the Olympic boxing squad by the harshest of margins.
Then, only weeks later, while training, he suffered a serious ankle injury which left his foot in a cast and sidelined him for the rest of the year.
“It has been tough,” Baister told the Echo.
“Tough, because it wasn’t a straight-forward recovery either and things kept going wrong but I had an operation on it which seems to have cured the problem and it has been simply a case of building fitness and movement up from then on.”
Baister’s fitness has never been a problem and he has stepped that up, returned to pad work and sparring, although full-out sprinting is something he will only tackle next month.
That didn’t stop the Elite Great Britain Podium Squad member competing in Belarus for European glory at the beginning of the month though.
“I was invited to box by the GB squad and didn’t want to let them down.
“I knew there was no chance of doing my ankle further injury so that wasn’t a problem, although I also knew I wasn’t at 100 per cent either.”
Baister did not let himself or his country down, going out on points to the eventual winner Aleksi Egdrov, who has been described as the Russian Mike Tyson.
“I’ve no complaints because he was a tough opponent and the pre-tournament favourite, but it was good to be back in the ring again and being able to look ahead again,” said the Wearsider.
Baister has plenty of awards in his own trophy cabinet as it is – having won the national heavyweight senior ABA championship and twice been gold medallist in the prestigious Tammer tournament, as well as numerous international honours.
But he is hoping the best is yet to come.
“The Olympics was a disappointment, but you get over it and move on,” he said.
“The injury was hard to overcome because physically there’s nothing you can do about.
“But now I’m recovering and getting better, you can reduce the chance of further injury by following a set programme and exercises.
“The GB boxing performance director, Rob McCracken, said he was delighted with my efforts in Belarus – more so than me, because I hate losing.
“But I’m just looking forward to pouring all my energy into preparing for the World Championships now.
“I train with the GB squad in Sheffield four days a week and on the fifth day I train at Sunderland ABC and it has been great to see the fitness and sharpness coming back.”
A joiner by trade, Baister says he has to thank his employers, Gentoo, for their support.
“Without their help, my goals in boxing would be so much more difficult to achieve,” he said. “I truly thank them for that. I should be back to doing sprint work again next month, which is the last piece in the jigsaw, and then I’m looking to put the setbacks of the last 12 months behind me.”