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Zoey Clark’s Olympic fate to be decided today

Zoey Clark faces an anxious wait
Zoey Clark faces an anxious wait

Zoey Clark’s long-time coach Eddie McKenna believes the Aberdeen AAC sprinter deserves to be included in the Great Britain 4x400m relay squad for next month’s Tokyo Olympic Games but admits it’s by no means a foregone conclusion.

The team will be announced today and although Clark missed the chance of selection for the individual 400m when she finished sixth in the trials at Manchester Sportcity at the weekend, she is still in with a decent shout of a place in the relay.

McKenna said: “It wasn’t Zoey’s day. She maybe got the pacing slightly wrong in the opening 200m, but that can happen in the heat of the moment.

“But, as I told her, she ran the best she could and at the end of the day it didn’t work out. That’s what happens in sport. It is what it is and we can’t complain.

“You have to take the rough with the smooth and it didn’t fall in her favour, so that’s fine. Olympic selection is never guaranteed. It’s a huge achievement and everyone who gets selected deserves congratulations.”

McKenna hasn’t given up all hope that Clark might still earn a seat on the plane to Japan next month as she has been a valued and key performer for Great Britain relay teams over the past four years, winning silver and bronze medals at world and European level.

He added: “She has so much experience and I hope that will be taken into account. Zoey has always done well and has run some fantastic legs for Great Britain. She deserves a place, but it’s in the lap of the selectors.”

There was also disappointment in Manchester for Black Isle athlete Kirsty Law (Inverness Harriers).

The Loughborough-based discus thrower had won the British title for the previous two years and was aiming for an Olympic qualifying distance after setting a PB 59.60m a few days earlier.

But it didn’t work out as the 12-time Scottish champion finished fourth with her poorest throw of the season, 52.73.

Banchory Stonehaven AC’s Alisha Rees narrowly failed to reach the final of the 200m after finishing third in her heat with a time of 23.81secs.

That’s outside the qualifying time for an individual slot in next month’s European under-23 championships in Estonia. Her chances of selection now rest on a possible place in the 4x100m should the management decide to send a relay team.

Mhairi Maclennan (Inverness Harriers) was 10th in the 5,000m in 16:35.19 while Naomi Lang (Aberdeen AAC) dropped out.

Aberdeen’s Hannah Cameron found herself up against Scotland’s European 1500m champion Laura Muir (Dundee Hawkhill Harriers) in the first round of the 800m. Muir cruised into the final in 2:05.41 with Cameron being eliminated after finishing fourth in 2:07.34.

Muir went on to finish third in the final in 2:00.24.

Keith to represent GB in Estonia

Megan Keith

Megan Keith is to represent Great Britain in the 3,000m at next month’s European under-20 championships in Tallinn, Estonia where she will carry realistic hopes of featuring in the scramble for a medal position.

The Inverness Harriers club member secured automatic selection by winning the British under-20 title in Manchester with a bold front-running performance, clocking 9min 29.66sec to finish just over three secs ahead of her closest rival.

Keith made her intentions clear from the start by bursting to the head of the field within the opening 200m and gradually extended her lead to an unassailable 50m after 2,000m.

Her bold front-running effort on a cool and breezy evening took its toll in the closing stages as she slowed significantly, but all the hard work had been done and she was never in any danger of being caught.

She said: “I decided that if I made it hard for everyone early on I’d be able to get the gap over the others that I needed. My priority was to win the race and it seemed the best way to do it.”

Keith’s fastest time this year is 9:19.05 set at Linwood in early June. That’s the sixth fastest in Europe this year at under-20 level.

Norway’s Ina Halle Haugen tops the rankings with 9:11.81 but Keith’s time is less than two secs slower than second-ranked Ilona Mononen from Finland.

But while the 19 year-old Highland athlete is quietly confident of her capabilities, she remains extremely level-headed and would never make any rash predictions as to how she might fare.

She said: “My aim is firstly to make the final and then do as well as I can.”

Simpson retains Lairig Ghru crown

Robbie Simpson

Great Britain mountain running international Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners) was in impressive form when winning the Lairig Ghru mountain marathon between Braemar and Aviemore for the second year in a row.

A series of waves of runners set off at different times to comply with covid guidelines, with Simpson among the elite group starting at the back.

The Banchory-based athlete worked his way through the field, and despite the difficulty of trying to overtake dozens of runners on a single track, completed the 43k route in 2hr 58min 10sec.

That’s a little over five minutes quicker than he ran in 2020 and it’s the second quickest time in the history of the race which dates back to the mid 1970’s.

Only Murray Strain (Hunters Bog Trotters), who clocked 2:58.10 in 2017, has run faster and no-one else has broken the three-hour barrier.

Simpson said: “I started well and had a guy pushing me along for the first 16k and thought I was set for a fast time. But I maybe didn’t push it hard enough in the middle section. I was maybe running a bit safely to get through it without hurting myself too much on the boulders.

“I knew towards the end that I was close to the record but I just missed out. It was very warm but overall it was a good day.”

Edinburgh’s Rowan Boswood (Carnethy) was second in 3:05:03 with Cambuslang’s Fraser Stewart third in 3:11:02.

Hollie Orr, who was runner-up in 2020, won the women’s race in 3:44:21 while Anwen Darlington (Dundee Road Runners) took second position in 3:53:01 and Kirsty Dickson (Carnethy) was third in 3:56:04.

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