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Athletics: Aberdeen’s Zoey Clark records sixth-fastest 400m time in the world this year – and says there’s more to come

Zoey Clark.
Zoey Clark.

Zoey Clark was delighted to set a Scottish native record indoor 400m time in Glasgow on Saturday – but the Aberdeen AAC runner believes there is more to come in the weeks ahead.

The Great Britain international was one of a small number of athletes taking part in the 4J Studios elite invitational meeting, which was permitted to go ahead following Scottish Government and sportscotland approval, with pre-event Covid testing of all competitors.

Clark, who had Loughborough’s world championship 200m runner Beth Dobbin (Edinburgh AC) as company in the two-person 400m race, zipped round the track at the Emirates Arena in 52.03, with her rival clocking 53.33.

The north-east woman’s time is the fastest indoor 400m run by a Scot in Scotland, surpassing Olympian Eilidh Doyle’s 2018 mark of 52.38.

Doyle still holds the national record – for performances achieved anywhere in the world – with her 51.45 set when taking silver at the 2013 European indoor championships in Sweden.

Clark tuned up for her record-breaking run by chalking up a respectable 60m time of 7.48 just 30 minutes earlier.

She said: “I’m really happy with my 400m. To be honest, when I heard the time my initial reaction was to feel frustrated not to have gone under 52 seconds.

“But then I realised it was an indoor PB and it’s great that it’s a record, too, as I didn’t know that.

“I’m also happy with my 60m run as it’s my second-fastest time.

“I’m keen to get any race at all at this stage and it acted as a good warm-up for the 400m. There was only half an hour between them, but the 60 gets you firing and ready to go.

“There were just the two of us in the 400 and Beth was in the outside lane ahead of me, so I had her to chase at the beginning.

“She is such a good 200m runner, so I knew she would go out quite fast and that gave me the incentive to go through the first 200m quicker than I might otherwise have done. I reckon that was quite helpful for me.”

Clark’s time is the sixth fastest in the world this year and, although she is not reading too much into that, she feels it is a mark which can be improved before the end of what is a restricted indoor season.

She said: “It’s a different year from normal as not everyone is racing, but it’s a good place for me to be and it bodes well for the future.

“I’d like to get under 52 seconds.

“I feel it’s there and I just need to get my race right.”

Clark’s next outing will be in the Great Britain European indoor championship team trail at Manchester on February 20.

Nine-hour round trip for seven-second race worth it for Alisha Rees

Great Britain international Alisha Rees made a nine-hour round trip to Glasgow from her base at Loughborough University for a race which lasted a fraction more than seven seconds.

The Banchory Stonehaven AC sprinter was in no doubt the journey was worthwhile as she was rewarded with a fine performance in her first competition for almost 12 months.

Rees was running in a combined men’s and women’s 60m at the invitation-only Emirates Arena meeting and she came away with a time of 7.39 seconds, finishing ahead of Aberdeen AAC’s Zoey Clark (7.48).

The Torphins athlete was only 0.07 sec outside the Scottish record she set last February.

Banchory Stonehaven’s Alisha Rees.

Rees said: “It was weird being back in a competition again, because it has been so long. It felt low-key and chilled because the place was so empty.

“Despite that, I was still a bit nervous and it was strange running with the guys.

“The race had been seeded, so Zoey was at one side of the track and I was at the other with the guys in between.

“The guys pulled away and I was on my own. I never saw Zoey.

“It might have been better if Zoey had been in the next lane, but it was still good and I’m happy just to get a race.

“I was a bit worried about what sort of time I’d run, but it wasn’t too bad at all for a first outing.

“Last year, at the Scottish championships, I opened with 7.40 in my heat and went on to run 7.33 in the final.

“So I think if I’d had a second race on Saturday, I would have been faster.”