Eddie Mckenna believes Zoey Clark’s experience and strength of character were telling factors in Great Britain’s 4x400m silver medal winning performance at the European indoor championships in Poland.
The Netherlands lived up to their billing as favourites by winning in a championship record of 3:27.15 with the British quartet taking second position in 3:28.20 while title-holders Poland had to settle for bronze in 3:29.94.
Clark posted the second quickest split of the final, covering the opening leg in 51.83s to handover just inches behind Netherlands star Lieke Klaver.
Jodie Williams, bronze-medallist in the individual 400m, Ama Pipi and Jessie Knight completed the job.
Clark was the only survivor from the GB team which also struck silver at the 2019 European indoor championships in Glasgow.
Mckenna who has been 26-year-old Aberdeen sprinter’s coach for more than a decade, was full of praise for all four athletes but understandably paid special tribute to Clark.
He said: “I am delighted for Zoey.She was very disappointed not to be selected for the individual 400m despite topping the UK rankings, but it’s typical of her class that she was able to regroup and run as well as she did.
“All the hard work she has done throughout lockdown has paid off and she delivered on the day. It’s her first major championship event for almost 18 months so to come away with a silver medal is impressive.
“I think it was sensible to put her on the opening leg. She was probably the most experienced relay runner there. She was relaxed, composed, produced an impressive split time and put the team in a great position. She’s a great team player and deserves all the plaudits.
“All the British girls ran well and deserve credit but the Netherlands were so strong. It would have required a British record to have won.”
European 4×4 Silver Medalists🥈
Wearing the GB kit for the first time in 15 months felt so special and I’m proud of how we ran as a team. Returning to international competition has relit a spark within me and I am excited to see what the year will bring. pic.twitter.com/ZwONeBUGz7
— Zoey Clark (@_ZoeyClark) March 8, 2021
Mckenna pointed out that Clark has now been delivering 4x400m championship medals for Great Britain teams for the past decade.
He said: “She received her first gold medal at the European under-20 championships in Tallin when she was only 16.
“She said at the time she didn’t deserve it because she had run only in the heats and not in the final. But, quite rightly, all the squad members received medals and she was fully entitled to it.”
Since then the medals have kept coming. Clark was a gold medallist at the 2015 European under-23 championships then stepped up to senior level with a silver at the 2017 world championships in London.
The following year there was European championship and world indoor championship bronze medals.
Mckenna is confident she can go on to even greater success this summer at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
He said: “It would be very difficult for her not to be picked for the relay given her record.”