Aberdeen sprinter Zoey Clark admitted her chances of an individual selection at this year’s World Athletics Championships may have evaporated after illness contributed to a frustrating display at the UK Athletics Championships in Manchester.
Ranked second in Britain heading into the women’s 400m final on Saturday evening, Clark could only manage sixth place with a time of 52.63sec – meaning she may have to settle for a relay spot on the Great Britain team.
The World Championships, rescheduled from 2020, will be taking place in Eugene, Oregon, from July 15 to July 24.
Clark is one of four female 400m runners who have achieved the qualifying standard for the championships. But, after rivals Victoria Ohuruogu and Nicole Yeargin finished first and second respectively at the UK Championships – which also acted as trials for the World Championships – it is likely they are now first in line for a place in the individual 400m.
And Clark explained a minor illness she contracted following two standout performances in Switzerland meant she could not recover in time to be at her best for one of the major races of the season.
She said: “I didn’t have very good preparation for the British Championships. When I was in Switzerland, I got ill, so the week leading up to (the UK Championships) has been a case of hoping I get better in enough time to run.
“I thought I was almost there, but I think I got found out a bit in the 400m. That’s what happens in sport, and it’s one of those things you have to deal with.”
Despite the setback in Manchester, however, Clark is in no mood to let her season unravel.
With two major international championships following next month’s World Championships, Clark is eager to compete in the individual 400m at both the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and the European Championships in Munich.
She said: “There’s so much going on (this season), so it’s not as if we had one opportunity for one event this year and that’s that.
“There are three major internationals happening, so there’s a lot to aim for and a lot to work towards. We’ve had a bit of a hiccup, but there’s still a lot we can do for this year.
“You do need time to process (the poor result). Last year was disappointing for me, but a lot of good still came from it – I still managed to make an Olympic team and salvage the season.
“I know there is still a lot to be gained from this season and I will have to use that to drive my focus these next couple of weeks.”
Rees returns to form to make women’s 100m showpiece
Alisha Rees made a welcome return to form in Manchester’s blustery conditions to make the final of the women’s 100m.
The Loughborough-based sprinter, who grew up in Torphins, Aberdeenshire, ran 11.32sec in Friday’s heat, before clocking 11.29sec in the semi and 11.34sec in the final, where she finished seventh.
A strong following wind for each race meant none of the times were legal, but Rees said she was still highly encouraged by the performances.
They came after a series of runs in the past month which the Scotland international said were not representative of her current ability.
She said: “I haven’t executed some races as well as I’ve wanted to (recently), so I was just focused on running my own race. I’ve been speaking to my sports psychologist as well, which helped.
“(It was just about) making sure I was focusing on the right things and trusting I was in shape. Although I hadn’t run a couple of races how I wanted to, I knew I was still in good shape.”
Rees, who set a new Scottish record in her opening race in Dagenham last month, aims to break the record again later this season.
When asked whether further personal bests are possible over the 100m this year, she said: “Yes, 100%. My 11.39sec performance was from the start of the season, and I’m definitely quicker than I was then. I just haven’t been able to put the races together.
“I think if the wind was a +2.0 metres per second (a legal wind reading), then I would have got the time down.
“I truly believe I’m in quicker shape than 11.39sec. To break my own record again is definitely something I’m aiming to do.”
Mixed bag for north’s other UK Champs hopefuls
In the women’s discus, Inverness Harrier Kirsty Law produced a second-round throw of 55.18m to take a silver medal behind UK leader, Jade Lally.
Elgin thrower Mark Dry took fourth place in the men’s hammer with a throw of 68.11m.
His best performance of the year, a 70.49m throw in Loughborough earlier this month, means the Midlands-based international remains hopeful of Commonwealth Games selection later this week.
In the women’s 800m, Aberdeen’s Hannah Cameron reached the final, where she went toe to toe with former British record holder and eventual winner Jemma Reekie.
Cameron, who was ranked eighth in Scotland heading into the Championships, qualified for her second British Championships final after running 2:08.62 in Saturday’s heat. In Sunday’s final, she ran 2:10.78 in strong winds to finish eighth.