Zoey Clark will settle for a place in the Great Britain 4x400m relay squad for next month’s European indoor championships in Poland after seeing her hopes of an individual 400m spot evaporate in the trials at Manchester.
The Aberdeen AAC sprinter made the lengthy car journey south full of confidence after setting a Scottish native record of 52.03secs in Glasgow earlier in the month – the quickest time by a British athlete this year.
However, the spark she had shown in all her previous outings this winter was missing on this occasion.
Clark won her heat in 53.23, but posted only the fourth fastest time, 53.43, in one of two separate final races.
English runners Jodie Williams (52.27), Jessie Knight (52.38) and Ama Pipi (53.05) were all quicker than the north-east athlete on the day.
And with head-to-head results taking priority over fast times, these three have been given the available individual 400m places for Poland.
They are also included in the relay squad along with Clark, fellow-Scot Beth Dobbin (Edinburgh AC) and Yasmin Liverpool (Coventry).
Clark said: “I just felt tired. Although I won my heat, it didn’t feel very good, then I was slower in the final. I hadn’t felt great all week so maybe my preparations weren’t quite right.
I maybe tried to squeeze too much training into the period between my previous competition and going to Manchester.
“It just wasn’t my weekend and it was disappointing, but you live and learn.”
Despite missing out on an individual place, Clark is relishing the prospect of tackling the relay and potentially adding to the success she has enjoyed in this event in the past.
She was part of the GB relay team which took silver behind Poland at the previous European indoor championships in Glasgow two years ago.
Clark has also won world indoor bronze (2018), world outdoor silver (2017) and European outdoor bronze (2019).
She said: “It will be good to be challenging for a medal again, although we’ll have our work cut out. The Dutch team has improved and looks strong, while Poland will be defending the title on home ground.
“I reckon we have a good squad. There are four of us who have run sub 53secs, so that’s always going to be a strong group.
“Because some of them will have their individual races, we need depth to make sure we get through the rounds.
“If we are in the final, we’ll definitely be challenging for a medal.
“I’m excited about being part of a relay squad again.”
Three other Scots have been selected.
Guy Learmonth (Lasswade AC) will compete in the 800m, Neil Gourlay (Giffnock North) in the 1,500m and Andrew Butchart (Central AC) in the 3,000m.
The championships are in Torun from March 5-7.
Alisha Rees to take break before build-up to summer season begins
Alisha Rees brought the curtain down on her short indoor season by recording another two 60m victories in an elite-only meeting at London’s Lee Valley stadium.
The Banchory Stonehaven AC sprinter has now run five unbeaten races in a three-week spell after 12 months of absence from competition.
Her times of 7.37 and 7.41 in London were just outside her 2021 best of 7.36 clocked at Loughborough earlier in the month, but all are outside the European championships qualifying mark of 7.25.
Rees, who is the Scottish indoor record holder with a time of 7.32, was disappointed not to have run faster, but appreciated being given the opportunity to race after missing all the 2020 outdoor season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “The times I got weren’t really what I wanted and I don’t think they reflect what I’m capable of, but it’s difficult to get into a proper competitive mindset when there’s only three people in a race.
“I am disappointed, but at the same time I’m grateful to have been able to take part in three indoor meetings, which is much more than I expected at the start of the year.”
Rees is now enjoying a break from training before starting her build-up towards the summer season, when she’ll target a place in the European outdoor championships.
She said: “I’ve been racing for each of the past three weeks, so I need a few days to recover.”