CULTED TALKS TRACK TO RUNWAY WITH NICLAS BAKER
Comfort is something Niclas Baker – Olympic sprinter and part-time model – considers a lot in his daily life. As an athlete, a comfort-zone is something to be abandoned when necessary, thrown to the wind for the sake of success. Long hours training, overseas flights to intense competitions, and the general onslaught of everyday life culminate in a pretty chaotic schedule, within which comfort isn’t often prioritised.
However, Niclas does see the importance of comfort when it’s really needed. From his rest days to his kit, comfort is actually up there with water and air. This is something corroborated by Nike Underwear, who he linked up with last week. As an athlete, and as a person, Nike Underwear’s designs which prioritise comfort even in the face of the most intensive workouts and the most hectic schedules, are a necessity for Niclas.
We caught up with Niclas Baker after his Nike Underwear shoot to talk about everything from sprinting to modelling, making it big, and of course why he’s a fan of Nike Underwear.
Hey Niclas! How are you doing today?
I’m doing good! It’s been freezing today so I’m just adjusting to that, but training was indoors so not too bad. We just had some block starts with the group because we’re getting ready for the indoor season starting in January, and then a few 60 metre runs.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do?
My name’s Niclas, I’m 28 years old, live in central London, and I’m an unsponsored full-time athlete and model on the side. I’ve been running for about 7 to 8 years now, competing for Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and I won the National Championships in 2021 as a sprinter in the 400 metres.
Take us through the shoot – was it fun?
Yeah, I really enjoyed the shoot, meeting the whole team, and of course the lunches that were provided. I always get nervous before shoots but it’s excitement rather than nerves. The direction of the shoot – like the moodboard – was such a vibe, and overall it was really nice to work with CULTED and Nike Underwear.
How often do you train? Do you have a tight regime?
You have to have a chilled out mindset because you don’t want to get in over your head with training, but it is good to have a set routine in a sense. I personally train five days a week – four days in a group of about eight from 9:00 till 2:00, and then the other day can be your own session where you work on yourself. I’m the only person in the group at the moment who’s been to the Olympics, but there used to be someone who moved on last year that I roomed with in the Olympic Village.
What are the top three necessities you’d recommend to an aspiring Olympic athlete?
Firstly, you really need a supportive environment, like the right people around you in terms of family, friends, relationships, and also just your day-to-day habits, they need to be tiptop. I’d personally say I probably lean on family the most. Secondly, I’d say the ability to take failure on the chin and learn from it super quick, because really it’s inevitable. There’s hundreds of ways things could go wrong, but if you get into that mindset you’ll just fly through all the obstacles. And lastly, investing in a good pair of running shoes is basically like investing in your feet and legs. If you don’t have that in a race, you’re gonna lose.
How would you define success?
To me success is being able to live out what you’re good at everyday and just being satisfied with that. I think one moment when I’ve felt successful was probably day one in the Olympic Village. You spend so many years trying to get somewhere and always thinking about the next step, and when I arrived at the village I kind of felt like “there is no next”. I was in the environment that I’d worked for seven years to get to, and it felt like I was in the future – that felt like success.
Can you describe one of your favourite moments of your athletic career so far?
I worked on and off at a hospital from about 2016 doing mostly administrative work, but during the pandemic it was just every day; I hadn’t had a break in two years and ended up quitting due to exhaustion. Then two weeks later, I won the National Championships! It was like a complete 180 and I’d say that was my favourite moment because it was such a transition. It was like coming out of such a dark tunnel and gave me such a leg up in terms of gaining the momentum, motivation and the belief in myself that I needed.
What is your number-one priority when choosing underwear – for when competing and for everyday?
The main priorities for me would be comfort, and I guess feel, but that’s kind of the same thing. I think feel is more like how they make you feel when you wear them, and comfort is the fabric so they are slightly different. I mean, I’ve been wearing Nike Underwear for the last few days and I’ve got no complaints.
As an athlete, what’s your opinion on Nike Underwear’s use of Dri-FIT Essential Micro technology (which reduces the impact of sweat via “sweat-wicking technology”)?
I actually knew about Nike Underwear’s Dri-FIT technology before the shoot as their products feature a lot in my kit, and I do love that aspect of the design. I like how it’s good for all conditions, like all types of training whether you’re in the gym or on the track, warming up or cooling down. You can wear it pretty much everywhere.
The Nike Underwear range is also designed for movement due to its soft and stretchy sustainable knit fabric. Would you ever wear a pair while competing for this reason?
Yeah, definitely – I mean, I do already! Like I mentioned before, Nike Underwear products make up a portion of my kit already; I was wearing a pair at training today. But even when I’m not training I’m like “let me just pop on a pair” because they’re so comfortable and breathable, literally just very well made.
Is there anything in particular about the Nike Underwear collection that you love?
Out of everything, I’d have to say I love the colour range in particular. My favourites are probably the ones with the gold band on the waist. Kind of like lucky gold boxers I guess – will for sure be wearing them at the next Olympics!
Would you recommend the Nike Underwear range to your fellow athletes?
For sure, I would. I was actually in a taxi with my friend yesterday – after the shoot – and started talking about the shoot and I was saying how, “I’ve just got this Nike underwear and it’s really nice, you should check them out!”
It seems like you’ve literally done everything, competing in the Olympics, walking in fashion shows, and even working in a hospital throughout the pandemic. Which have you enjoyed the most and why?
The Olympics obviously does top everything. I think it’s being able to see the investment you’ve put into athletics and the outcome. Like, you spend your life kind of living in the future, thinking “oh, when I get this house, and when I have kids, etc.”. But at the Olympics I kind of woke up and felt like “well, I’m here. I don’t need to be anywhere else after this.” It was so fulfilling to see all your hard work pay off. I lived off that buzz for like half a year afterwards – a good ten months – waking up everyday like “wow that happened”.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I actually wanted to be a firefighter, I think for the thrill of it. It seemed kind of action-packed as a child, running around, hanging out with the boys, doing quite dangerous things. It wasn’t until like 2008 that I thought I wanted to go to the Olympics. I didn’t know how back then, but I knew I was going to do it.
Finally, what’s next for you? Do you have anything on the horizon you’re excited about?
I think the next thing for me is just progressing as an athlete. I’m excited to see what I can do next, just to see how far I can actually make it in the sport. I started at twenty which is quite late for a sprinter, so I want to see where I can take myself in the next four years. I’m planning to compete indoors in 2023 and during that time there’ll be the British Championships and the European Indoor Championships as well, which would be fun to make that team. So yeah, lots to come.
Lastly, we’ve got a couple of quick fire questions. Ready?
Where’s your favourite place to run?
Lee Valley Regional Park
Boxers or briefs?
Nike boxers, of course!
Which is your favourite: your running technique or your model walk?
What do you do to relax after training?
Treadmill or track?
What’s your favourite before-competing snack?
Bananas and porridge