Great Britain international sprinter Zoey Clark has decided to forego the sunshine of South Africa in favour of staying in Aberdeen next month to begin her Olympic Games preparations.
The 26-year-old 400m specialist is close to being assured of a place in the GB women’s relay squad for Tokyo next summer and is also a strong contender for a slot in the individual one-lap event.
But there’s still a lot of hard work to be done before anything is absolutely confirmed so Clark and her coach Eddie Mckenna are already working hard on a strategy to get her into peak shape for the challenges which lie ahead.
Clark would usually take the opportunity to escape part of the Scottish winter to enjoy some warm weather training at the beginning of the year, but she has chosen not to go down that road on this occasion.
She said: “We went to South Africa last January and that worked out well. There was an opportunity for another British athletics training camp there next month, but we’ve decided there’s no point in taking any risks given the current situation.
“I’m sure it would have been fine, but the set-up here in Aberdeen is really good and we have everything we need here, so I’m staying for now at least.”
That means Clark will be able to open her 2021 competitive account by taking part in Aberdeen AAC’s planned indoor meeting at Aberdeen Sports Village on January 16.
It will be the north-east athlete’s first race since October 2019, when she helped Great Britain take fourth place in the final of the women’s 4x400m at the Doha world championships.
Clark said: “It’s quite a contrast. It’s bizarre to have gone more than a year without a race, so I’m excited to run in Aberdeen.
“I’ll be doing the 60m as that’s the longest race we can get on the indoor track here. It will be a bit of fun, but I need it to get back into the race mentality after so long.
“In previous years my short races have been quite good, but this time I’m not so sure how I’ll be. I doubt if speed is my strength at the moment, but it will help blow the cobwebs away.”
Although Clark is totally focused on the summer Olympics, she plans to enjoy a few more indoor races over the first few months of the new year.
She said: “The indoor season is not a priority as the Olympics is obviously the main thing for me, but I will do a reasonable amount of races to get used to competing again.
“I’ll probably do the British indoor championships in Glasgow as I missed it last year, which was disappointing, so that’s an added reason for taking part.”
“I might also do some of the other open meetings planned for Glasgow, so I can stretch my legs in some 200m or even 400m races.”
Clark admits she may be tempted to tackle the European indoor championships in Poland if the opportunity comes along.
She said: “Again it’s not a priority or a target, but if I am running well enough and the chance comes along I’ll probably take it.”