Store worker leads elite athletes out to Olympic Track

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It will be a day Jo Baker will never forget, as she led some of the world’s best athletes onto the track at the Olympic Stadium during the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games.

The 59-year-old, who works as store lead at the Peacehaven branch of Sainsbury’s, was nominated for the once-in-a-lifetime experience by her manager and colleagues.

Jo, of Northwood Avenue, Saltdean, performed her role in front of thousands of onlookers, all eager to relive the excitement of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games three years on.

The likes of London 2012 Olympic champions Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis-Hill returned to the scene of their triumph, while there was also double delight on Saturday as sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and long jumper Shara Proctor broke their own British records within two minutes of each other.

Jo said: “This is my first time to the stadium and the first time to an actual athletics event at all. It’s pretty good isn’t it?

“I was feeling quite nervous about walking out the athletes but it’s something you just have to do and soak it up.

“I wasn’t too worried about everyone watching me go out. It’s just nice to be able to say you shared the track with such famous athletes.”

Baker was one of 30 Sainsbury’s colleagues from across the UK to enjoy a VIP weekend which also included a trip on the London Eye, a bus tour of London and a meet and greet with athletes such as Commonwealth Games 800m silver medallist Lynsey Sharp.

Jo added: “I’ve been a carer for my husband Geoff for three years. He’s got cancer and so there’s certain things he can’t do. It’s not always easy balancing everything as I work full time. It’s been wonderful to be nominated for this. It’s been a brilliant treat, you feel like you’re something special so it’s really nice. Talking to a lot of the colleagues who have come up here for the different reasons, everyone was saying it’s nice to be appreciated.”

Sainsbury’s is a proud partner of British Athletics. The partnership reflects Sainsbury’s wider commitment to inspiring healthy lifestyles for all, and complements grassroots campaigns such as Active Kids and the Sainsbury’s School Games.

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