Aberdeen AAC’s Zoey Clark believes she’ll be in great shape for the next Olympic Games despite not competing at all this year.
The coronavirus pandemic caused the wholesale cancellation of most major athletics competitions over the summer although some national and international events are now taking place.
The biggest casualty was the Tokyo Olympics which were postponed and are now to be held from July 23 to August 8 2021.
Clark had hoped to represent Great Britain in the 400m and 4x400m relay in Japan this year, but these aspirations have been put on hold.
But the 25 year-old thinks the postponement might leave her better prepared than had the Games gone ahead this summer.
She said: “I’m obviously disappointed the Olympics didn’t go ahead but the postponement has given me an extra year to get stronger, to get over injuries, and to build a better base.
“Normally at this stage in the year I’d be tired after a season of competing and travelling. But that isn’t the case so I’m going to be fresher than usual when I start winter training and hopefully able to get off to a better start.
“So, the delay could be a blessing in disguise and if all goes well I could be in a better position when the Games do go ahead.”
Clark has decided not to compete in next month’s British championships and has also abandoned plans to take part in some of the series of scottishatletics open meetings which are getting underway.
She said: “I decided some time ago to give the British champs a miss. I wanted to do some of the Scottish meetings as I didn’t want to travel further afield for competitions.
“I felt that going to the British champs in Manchester would be taking an unnecessary risk. I wasn’t comfortable about going, especially as it’s an area where the virus hasn’t been the best.
“Also, there was a lot of uncertainty about whether I’d be able to get enough races beforehand to prepare.
“But I was interested in the Scottish meetings. If I was going to do any competitions it would be for a bit of fun and the plan was to do a range of distances.
“I was looking forward to doing a 300m as I haven’t raced that distance since I was in the under-17’s.
“I just wanted to run and test my speed and fitness without there being any pressure.
“But, the first meeting was cancelled, then the Aberdeen lockdown was imposed so I wasn’t able to travel.
“There’s another meeting coming up this weekend but I didn’t know if the lockdown was going to be relaxed, so I decided it just wasn’t worth it. There was no real benefit in doing it.”
Following the announcement that Lockdown in Aberdeen is extended we have decided now is the time for me to reset for next year. Obviously it’s disappointing not to race at all, but the focus is now fully on next year and resetting now will be best for me on the long run
— Zoey Clark (@_ZoeyClark) August 20, 2020
After discussions with coach Eddie Mckenna, Clark is now focusing totally on achieving her goal of competing at Tokyo 2021.
She said: “We’ve called a halt to the season and will reset before working towards next summer.
“I actually feel I’m physically in really good shape. Obviously I haven’t been able to test myself in a race, so I don’t know how I would have done, but I do feel good.
“But now I need a mental break from going to the track and normal training so I’m going to take a couple of weeks off.
“However, as I don’t want to lose too much, I’ll still keep active with some mobility work and general fitness routines.When I start up again I’ll be ahead of where I am normally at this stage of the year.”
Clark is keen to sample some indoor competition over the winter but admits her plans will have to be flexible.
She said: “It would be good to run a few indoor races because I haven’t competed at all this year. It would be an opportunity to get that race feeling back again But we don’t even know if there will be an indoor season.
“So, whatever way things go we will have a Plan A and a Plan B and adapt accordingly.”