Aberdeen sprints coach Eddie McKenna thinks top north-east 400m runner Zoey Clark and others can achieve long-term benefits from this summer’s wipeout of major track and field meetings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the athletics community shares the disappointment and frustration experienced by all sports at this challenging time, McKenna feels there are also opportunities to be grasped from the pause in competitive action.
Great Britain international Clark, winner of world and European 4x400m relay medals, is one of a group of talented sprinters McKenna coaches in Aberdeen.
He said: “Zoey was obviously looking towards the Tokyo Olympics this summer, but, with that now being delayed until 2021, she has simply readjusted her focus and pushed it back 12 months.
“So I see the delay as being an advantage as it gives her another year to develop and I think she sees it that way, too.
“Her progress over the past seven or eight years has been fast and intense. She has never really had a break as it has been a case of going from one championships to the next.
“She has picked up a good number of medals at the highest level, but there has seldom been time to draw breath. She has never been able to get off the treadmill.
“But now we have a chance to step back a little,” he said.
“There is no pressure at the moment and she can take time to savour what she has achieved before moving on to the next stage.
“For sure she is now looking at the Tokyo Olympics then on to Paris in 2024 and possibly even beyond that.
“She has matured remarkably over the years and is now a consummate professional. Our coaching relationship is very much a two-way process as she trusts me and I trust her.
“We often independently reach the same conclusions about what to do.
“This is a bit of a ghost season for her. At one point there was the prospect of the British championships going ahead later in the summer if there was to have been a European championships.
“But with the Europeans now cancelled, there seems little point in having the British.
“So we will take time now to concentrate on things we’ve never had time to attend to and to work on any weaknesses.
Snippet of one of my sessions from this blocks gym program. Excited to start a new block next week.#quartersquat #singlelegsquat #hangsnatch #harropcurls #supinepullups #singlelegcalfraise #reverseflyes pic.twitter.com/TqpFZZ9cks
— Zoey Clark (@_ZoeyClark) April 19, 2020
Although it’s frustrating not being able to train on a track right now I’m actually getting a lot of enjoyment training at the outdoor spaces near my house. I never fully appreciated how many wonderful spots there are on my doorstep. pic.twitter.com/j7qYud3LDO
— Zoey Clark (@_ZoeyClark) April 13, 2020
“She has adjusted really well to the current situation and her training has been relatively unaffected, despite not having access to a track.
“She is using locations next to her home and, although she maybe can’t do quite the same intensity of session, she is getting everything done in her programme.
“All in all what’s happening right now will leave her in a better and stronger position to move forward.”