Aberdeen sprint star Zoey Clark is putting the finishing touches to her racing programme leading up to the Olympic trials in Manchester at the end of next month.
The 26-year-old GB international aims to be at the top of her game in order to fulfil her dream of being selected for the individual 400m, as well as the 4x400m relay.
That means using whatever racing opportunities come her way to sharpen form and instil confidence over the next eight weeks.
Although Clark would never take anything for granted, barring some unforeseen catastrophe she appears to be a certain pick for the relay. The icing on the cake would come from securing one of the three available individual 400m slots for Tokyo.
Clark’s coach, Eddie Mckenna, is confident she can achieve these goals and is determined to ensure nothing gets in the way.
He said: “Her main target now is to be ready for the end of June. There are no certainties in sport so we need to keep the focus on that. Zoey’s priorities are to be selected for the individual 400m and for the women’s 4x400m relay.
“She has a few race options before the trials and we’ll sit down now and decide which of these to do.”
Clark returned to Aberdeen from Poland a few days ago after producing two sterling performances for Great Britain at the world relays.
She helped the women’s side navigate safely through the heats of the 4x400m, but sat out the final in which the team finished third behind Cuba and Poland.
The Aberdeen athlete’s talents were instead diverted into the mixed relay in which she lined-up with Lee Thompson, Yasmin Liverpool and Rabah Yousif, taking fifth position behind winners Italy.
These results secured qualification for the 2022 world championships to be held in Eugene, Oregon.
Mckenna was pleased with Clark’s performances, but is keen for her to get even better over the coming weeks.
He said: “There’s still a gap that needs to be plugged in respect of her speed endurance over the final 20-30 metres.
“We knew that was the case anyway, but it was useful to see it in a high-level international competition. It’s something we need to work on and we know what we have to do. We are pretty relaxed about it.”
Had a lot of fun in the 4×4 heats yesterday.
Qualified for the final ✅
Qualified for World Champs 2022 ✅
Looking forward to seeing what’s in store for tonight. pic.twitter.com/ReufZtGsNJ
— Zoey Clark (@_ZoeyClark) May 2, 2021
With coronavirus restrictions still impacting on the availability of top-class international competition, Mckenna feels Clark will be more dependent on domestic races over the coming weeks.
He said: “We need to consider whether it’s viable to go abroad. There’s the possibility of quarantining after returning from some countries, which wouldn’t work, so we may have to concentrate on what’s available here.
“She’ll run in the Loughborough international on May 23, although that’s the same weekend as the Diamond league meeting at Gateshead where she might get a place in the non-counting race.
“There’s a few other races in the pipeline and we’ll be sorting out her schedule over the next few days.”
Clark is expected to compete at this weekend’s Trafford grand prix in Manchester. Organisers have put together a good quality line-up, with Clark’s GB team-mate Emily Diamond one of the confirmed starters along with European Indoor 800m champion Keely Hodgkinson.
Simpson hopes to battle through knee problem to compete in 50K race
Great Britain mountain running international Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners) hopes to shrug off a knee injury in time to take his place in this weekend’s Ultra X 50k Scotland race.
The Banchory runner hasn’t competed since finishing sixth in the British Olympic marathon trial at Kew Gardens in March.
He has been training well, but sustained the knee problem last week, and it has caused him to take a few days off.
He said: “I’m getting treatment for it, and hopefully it’s not too serious. I want to run at the weekend, but I’ll see how it goes. It would be good to get a race under my belt.”
Oldmeldrum’s GB trail running international Meryl Cooper is competing in the women’s race.
She said: “I’m looking forward to racing again. I haven’t competed since the Bennachie ultra last October.
“I’ve checked out the final 20k of the course and it’s certainly very beautiful. The terrain is mixed but nothing too technical. It’s all very runnable, which doesn’t play to my strengths, but it should be good.”
Cooper’s opponents include Metro Aberdeen’s Ginie Barrand, who is making her ultra distance debut. It will be her first race since setting a PB 1hr 17min 42sec in the Antrim half marathon last September.
The race starts at Fort Augustus and follows a trail which includes 1,343 metres of ascent and descent before finishing at Loch Ness beach, Dores.