Sprinter Zoey Clark says she is in a good place as she chases qualification for the Olympics.
After not racing in 2020 the 26-year-old made a successful return to competition in March as part of the British women’s 4x400m relay team which won a silver medal at the European Indoor Championship in Poland, which was the fifth relay medal she has won at a major championship.
The Aberdeen AAC athlete’s next major target is the British Championships in Manchester from June 25-27 where she hopes to secure Olympic qualification for the 400m, women’s relay and mixed relay.
Clark has been grateful for the use of the outdoor and indoor tracks and gym facilities at Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV) which has meant she was able to continue training six days a week throughout the second lockdown.
She said: “The first lockdown was tough but ASV let me back in as soon as they could, and I will never take the track for granted again.
“There’s been no disruption to training during this second lockdown which gave us uninterrupted access throughout winter which has helped me to get track fit.
“I certainly wouldn’t be in the position I am now in terms of preparation and fitness level without the support of the team at ASV.
“Since I didn’t race last year, it’s put me in a really good mind set as I have that race excitement back.
“I’ve been opening up with some of my fastest ever times, and I feel I have unfinished business.
“I’m confident I’m in good shape so I hope I have to chance to show it.”
Break in 2020 benefited Clark
Clark’s coach Eddie McKenna believes the lack of racing in 2020 has actually helped her.
McKenna hopes Clark will be able to deliver her best this summer and secure her spot at the games in Tokyo which runs from July 23 until August 8.
He said: “This allowed us time to get back to the fundamentals and fine tune training and speed and there is no doubt that Zoey’s performance in Poland demonstrated that.
“However, we are under no illusion of the scale of training for the Olympics and we now have our focus fully on delivering strong performances at the British Championships in the hope that Zoey secures Olympic selection.
“Zoey is a funded athlete, so we have been very fortunate to have access to ASV since July allowing us to consistently train on the track.
“Getting Zoey to the highest possible place in her career requires a joint coaching team, support network and facilities and ASV is very much a part of that team and the leadership within the sports village is included in that partnership to help Zoey achieve her very best.
“The Olympics are the biggest show on earth and it’s an extraordinary achievement for any athlete to reach it.
“We have between now and June to qualify and going by Zoey’s past record, she delivers when it matters but the level of intensity gets higher as expectations get higher.
“I have coached her to be at her peak aged 27, 28, 29, so she will not be at her very best until the Paris Olympics.”
Sports Village keen to help
ASV chief executive Duncan Sinclair says they have been keen to support athletes like Clark in any way they can during the pandemic.
He said: “One of our main priorities throughout the past year has been to support ASV’s performance athletes in any way that restrictions would allow.
“We are fully committed to supporting our home grown talent to achieve their potential in competitive sport.
“ASV facilities are world-class and offer a home and training base for North-east athletes to prepare and compete against the best in the world.
“It’s been an incredibly challenging period for us all, including our athletes so I’m delighted ASV was able to offer its support in this way.”