Aberdeen track star Zoey Clark admits that parting company with coach Eddie McKenna was one of the hardest decisions she has had to take.
The 26 year-old sprinter achieved her long term goal this summer of representing Team GB at the Tokyo Olympic Games where she competed in the mixed and women’s 4x400m relays.
Clark has been guided by McKenna since she was a teenager but feels she needs to move in a new direction in the lead up to the 2024 Games in Paris.
She said: “Obviously it was an extremely difficult decision. Certainly the hardest one I’ve had to make since becoming an athlete. Eddie has coached me for almost 12 years which is a long time to be with someone in that capacity.
“We work to an Olympic cycle, so if you are going to make a big change it’s best to do it at the beginning of a new cycle.
“There’s only three years to the next Olympics, instead of the usual four, so it’s a shorter schedule. I felt that if I didn’t make the change now, it wouldn’t be a good idea to do it at any point over the next couple of years.
“So, the decision is not a response to anything that’s happened this year. Things have been difficult with covid and various things but I think we handled it well. I made the Olympics, which was always our target, and I’m happy with how I ran.
“I just feel I’ve been with the same coach for 12 years, which is an extremely long time, and I’m just ready to make a change, take a different step and get a new stimulus.
“It’s a big risk, I know that, but I feel I need to take it. I know it could backfire but I’m feeling positive so we’ll see what happens.”
Clark’s new coach is to be her partner, former Scotland international and sprint champion Ryan Oswald.
She said: “Ryan will lead my coaching going forward. I’ll be training with a group of four, but hopefully that number will grow. I think it will be a fun group to work with.”
Clark achieved significant success under McKenna’s guidance, especially in the 4x400m relay in which she has become a key member of the Great Britain senior squad over the past four years.
As a 16 year-old she was part of the GB gold medal-winning squad at the European under-20 championships. Under-23 gold followed before she stepped up to the senior ranks and since then she has won world and European championship medals both indoors and outdoors.
McKenna said: “It has been my privilege to coach Zoey. We agreed that we would work together until the Tokyo Olympic cycle was completed. Now Zoey has decided that she wants to move on to try something different and as her coach I respect her wishes and wish her well.”
Bannerman claims first Scottish title
Jenny Bannerman (Inverness Harriers) won her first Scottish title in the Stirling 10k when holding off a strong challenge from former Loch Ness marathon champion Jen Wetton (Central AC).
The duo were locked in a cat-and-mouse battle throughout, before Bannerman pulled away in the closing stages to win by one second in a time of 35min 35secs.Josie Golder (Corstorphine AAC) was third in 36:30.
Bannerman has now a complete set of national 10k medals, having picked up silver in 2019 and bronze in 2017.
She said:”I reckon this is my best achievement, not only because I won the title but also because I haven’t been well recently and I wasn’t feeling all that great at all.
“Jen is a good friend but we had a great battle. We were together from 2k until 9k when she pulled ahead by three or four metres and I thought I was done.
“But I was able to dig in. I threw everything at it, managed to pass her with 500m to go and was able to hold on. I really didn’t know if I was going to make it as I felt so bad.
“But I’m happy to get the win and now the aim is to recover in time for the Baxters River Ness 10k next month.
Kenny Wilson (Moray Road Runners) showed that his preparations for next month’s London marathon are going well by posting a personal best time of 30:20 for fifth position in the men’s race.
Olympic Games 5,000m finalist Andy Butchart (Central AC) scored a clearcut victory in 29:06 with James Donald (Dundee Hawkhill Harriers) second in 29:51 while Ali Hay (Central AC) picked up bronze in 29:59.
Phillip in career-best display in Isle of Skye
Calum Phillip (Central AC) slashed 14mins off his previous best time to win the Isle of Skye half marathon ahead of a field of more than 300 runners.
The Stirling-based athlete finished 14th when the race was last held, in 2019, when he clocked 1hr 24min 41sec.
But on this occasion he zipped round the undulating course in 1:10:40 to complete the distance well clear of his closest challenger.
Hugh Campbell, a five-time previous winner, had to settle for second position in 1:12:38 but led Skye and Lochalsh Running Club to victory in the team competition with backing from Mark MacDonald,(fourth,1:15:44) and Dean MacLeod (sixth,1:21:00).
Local runner Sarah Attwood (Skye and Lochalsh Running Club), who was third in 2019, won the women’s race for the first time, recording 1:28:47.
She said: “It was a fantastic, well run event. I absolutely loved it. It has been so amazing to see the race back after two years and so fabulous to see so much support from the local community.
“It was brilliant to see so many people getting PBs with the weather being absolutely perfect. A huge thank you to all those involved.”
Attwood, who was 15th overall, was followed by Kristina Greig, 1:33:20, who led Bellahouston Harriers to the women’s team prize. Lesley Campbell.