|Olympic medal record|
|Competitor for the United States|
|Gold||1956 Melbourne||4x100 m relay|
|Silver||1952 Helsinki||200 metres|
|Silver||1956 Melbourne||100 metres|
|Bronze||1956 Melbourne||200 metres|
Walter Thane Baker (born October 4, 1931 in Elkhart, Kansas) is a former American athlete and winner of the gold medal in the 4x100 m relay at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, with a new world record of 39.5 seconds. At those Olympics Baker also won a silver medal in the 100-meter and a bronze in the 200-meter. At the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, he won a silver medal in the 200-meter.
Baker was born in Elkhart, Kansas. In 1953, as a Kansas State University student, Baker won the NCAA championship in the 220 yards (200 m), and in 1956 he won the AAU championships in 200 m. Baker also won numerous conference titles at Kansas State, and was a four-time All American.
Before the Melbourne Olympics, Baker equaled Jesse Owens's long-standing 100 m world record time of 10.2 seconds, and also twice equaled the 200 m world record of 20.6. He tied the world record in the 100 yd in 9.3 seconds, twice tied the world record in 60 yd indoor events at 6.1 seconds, and set the world record in the 300 yd at 29.4 seconds. He co-held several world records in relays.
After turning forty, Baker participated in the Masters Track and Field program and held numerous world records in the 100 yd, 100 m, 220 y, 200 m, and several relays in the age groups categories of 40-44, 45-49, and 50–54 years of age.
Baker is enshrined in the USATF Masters Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. He is also in the Kansas State University Sports Hall of Fame and the Kansas State High School Activities Hall of Fame. In 1978, he was named a "Silver Athletics Top Ten" for Personal Achievement.
He began as a track meet "starter" in 1959 and has started NCAA National Championships and National Federation Championships. The year 2010 was his forty-fourth year of serving at the Texas Relays. He is still active as starter.
He also has the track named after him in his home town of Elkhart, Kansas.
He retired in 1983 as a Colonel from the United States Air Force after serving thirty years of active and reserve status. Additionally, in 1992, he retired from Mobil Research and Development after thirty-nine years of employment.
His civic involvement included serving as President of a Rotary Club chapter, a member of the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association Board of Directors, the United States Olympians Board of Directors, and volunteered on other boards and associations. He has also served in various capacities supporting the churches where he worshiped.