Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Athletics: Aberdeen sprinter Zoey Clark reflects on rollercoaster 2022 season

Aberdeen's Zoey Clark after her 400m semi-final at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Zoey Clark won a relay medal at the Commonwealth Games. Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Wire

After a season encompassing three major championships – including her third consecutive Commonwealth Games – Aberdeen 400m runner Zoey Clark will be welcoming the chance to take her foot off the accelerator.

Slowing down is not normally in the sprinter’s nature, of course, but following a season which saw 27-year-old Clark take bronze medals from both the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships, one senses she will make an exception over the next few weeks or so.

Although Clark’s competitive season started in May, the training and preparations inevitably started long before. In the autumn of 2021, Clark parted with her long-term coach, Eddie McKenna, opting instead for a fresh start under former Scottish international sprinter, Ryan Oswald.

The early signs were positive during a strong indoor season, and after securing the Commonwealth Games standard in May, Clark then went one better in June when she set a personal best for the first time in nearly four years on the way to hitting the qualifying standard for the World Championships in Oregon.

Zoey Clark in action in the women's 400m heats at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Alexander Stadium, August 3 2022.
Zoey Clark in action in the women’s 400m heats at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Sport is never straightforward, however, and although Clark topped the UK rankings mid-season, a bout of Covid severely hindered her performance at the UK Championships in Manchester, where she finished 6th.

The timing seemed particularly cruel, but as Clark knows all too well, there is no hiding place when it comes to the trials – and despite her blistering start to the season, the Covid aftereffects proved too severe for her to recover in time.

She said: “It was obviously difficult going into Manchester – as an athlete you have to convince yourself everything is fine even when it isn’t necessarily fine.

“Although I wasn’t feeling amazing at British Championships, I was hoping maybe I could pull something out of the bag.

“It didn’t really come together. That was a real blow for me. I was fortunate in that, even though the British Championships didn’t go well, my performances early on put me in line for selection for Worlds.”

A solid run in the mixed relay in Oregon saw Clark ready herself for what was the undoubted highlight of her season in the form of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Having previously run at both the Glasgow and Gold Coast Commonwealths, Clark used all her experience to navigate both the heats and semi-finals in Birmingham with typical tactical nous to make her first final of her career at an outdoor major championships.

Scotland's Zoey Clark in action during the heats of the women's 400m. Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Wire RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Scotland’s Zoey Clark. Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Wire

“The Commonwealth Games were, without a doubt, my absolute favourite competition this year,” she said.

“We don’t really get the chance to compete for Team Scotland very often, but every time I do so it’s a delight. Everyone on the team is really friendly – they really care and it’s such a nice team and atmosphere to be part of.”

Clark went on to finish eighth in the final with a time of 51.90sec, but the most memorable success of the championships was her part in the 4x400m relay.

Having run in the Scotland team which broke the national 4x400m record in Australia four years ago, Clark went one better in Birmingham as Scotland took a surprise bronze medal following the England relay team’s disqualification. It was the first time since the Brisbane Commonwealth Games in 1982 that Scotland’s women had won a medal in the 4x400m relay.

Clark said: “I think Birmingham did such a great job with the Commonwealth Games. All the sessions were sold out, and the atmosphere was incredible. Sometimes in athletics you forget to enjoy the moment but in Birmingham, the enjoyment definitely was there.

“There was such a positive atmosphere. It was really lovely to be there and be part of that.”

In a unique season which saw three major championships crammed into two months, Clark’s final outing at the European Championships then saw her produce her fastest relay leg of the season, as she ran 51.21sec to help Britain progress through the heats.

Although Clark missed out on the cut for the final – UK Athletics selectors instead opted for the quartet of Victoria Ohuruogu, Ama Pipi, Jodie Williams, and Nicole Yeargin – Clark nevertheless is looking back on the 2022 season as her most successful to date.

“On paper, this has definitely been my strongest season ever,” she said. “I’ve been the most consistent, I’ve run PBs, and I’ve got medals – it’s definitely been a successful year for me.

“That’s really encouraging because although I trusted in what we were doing, you never know when you make the change (in coaching set-up). When you move coaches, often the first year you might not move on – you might need to be in the set-up for a couple of years before you start seeing improvements.

“To have seen the progress so early on makes me really excited and committed for the next year going forward.”

For the next couple of weeks, at least, Clark will allow herself some time away from the track as she recuperates from the mental and physical stresses of elite performance. Come October, however, she will be ready to start all over again.

  • The Middleton Trust Fun Runs, including a 10k and a 5k race, take place on Sunday, September 18. The deadline for entries is September 15 at