Miles and miles away: Runner from U.K. fights through injury, homesickness

George Caddick (middle), a junior from Manchester, United Kingdom practices on the Baylor Hart Track & Field Stadium on Monday with Robert Dutton, Sophmore of Austin, Texas (left) and Danny Leland, Freshman of Dallas, Texas (right). Photo credit: Charlene Lee

“I didn’t really want to go at first because it was so far from home. But it’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” – George Caddick

The Texas sun scorches the freshly installed track at Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium.

Manchester, England, second-year middle-distance runner George Caddick, nearly 4,685 miles from home, struggles to finish his first workouts of the 2014-15 season.

Training sessions have become difficult. Personal interactions with teammates are who struggle to understand Caddick in conversation are also a challenge.

As he nurtures a recovering injury, there is also a striking pain in Caddick’s leg that hinders his ability to run, the sole reason he came as far as he did.

Each day, Caddick contemplates packing his bags and going back to his home in the United Kingdom.

Such was the daily struggle for Caddick when he first arrived to Baylor on a track scholarship – an opportunity that did not exist back home.

A few weeks ago, Caddick, now a junior, was named Big 12 Athlete of the Week after running the best 400-meter time in the nation for the 2016 indoor season last week.

Caddick has come a long, physically and emotionally, to reach this point.

The pain in his leg during his freshman year, which limited him to about three races in his first season, was the result of a recoverable sciatic nerve injury.

Middle-distance running is a sports that demands a balance of speed and endurance.

Similar to the nature of the sport, Caddick pressed on, albeit conflicted with strife and longing.

His parents and coaches encouraged him along the way, urging him to stay.

“[Caddick] got discouraged his freshman year because of the injury, not allowing him to run like he wanted to. He had thoughts of going home and not coming back, but we showed him we can work through this and we did,” said Clyde Hart, director of track and field at Baylor. Hart is also the coach for the 400-meter race – Caddick’s event.

Hart was a major factor in Caddick’s decision to come to the United States after presenting him a scholarship offer during a seminar in England.

Hart told Caddick that if he was able to drop his time, the offer would become reality.

Caddick ended his 2013 season with a personal-best time of 46.77 seconds.

“I didn’t really want to go at first because it was so far from home,” Caddick said, “But it’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Caddick’s teammates welcome him as one of their captains, a position that allows him to give back to the people who accepted him and helped him feel at home in those tough times, he says.

One of his teammates, Brandon Moore, has even earned the title of best friend.

Not only has track influenced his life at Baylor, but the idea of walking into a classroom where professors understand the student-athlete lifestyle has also given Caddick comfort.

Generally speaking, in the U.K., education is pushed as the top priority and sports rest on the back-burner.

“The best thing I like about Baylor is the opportunity it gave me,” Caddick said. “I can’t ask for anything more; it changed my life, really.”

As the season continues, Caddick, with the continual help of his coach, will work toward qualifying for the British Olympic Team in the 4×400-meter relay or the open 400-meter.

Yet he has not forgotten the people that have brought him this far.

“To win a national championship in the 4×4 is one of my main goals this year,” Caddick said. “For my team.”