Aberdeen AAC’s Zoey Clark hopes to make history by representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland in an intriguing new event being held at the IAAF World Championships which open in Doha tomorrow.
A mixed 4x400m relay is on the programme for the first time with teams made up of two men and two women who can choose to run in whatever order they prefer.
So, men could be competing directly against women on the same leg of the race, depending on how team managers set up their running orders.
It’s an interesting concept which was first tried at the IAAF relays in Yokohama in May when USA won from Canada and Italy. Mixed relays will also be held at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Clark, pictured, said: “I’m certainly going to be involved training with the mixed relay squad although the final decision as to who will actually run won’t be made until late on, maybe the day before the competition.
“The mixed relays will be held over the first couple of days of the championships, on Saturday and Sunday, while the women’s relays are on the final two days the following weekend.
“So there’s plenty of time to recover between them, especially as I’m not doing the individual 400m.
“It’s very difficult to predict which countries will be the main contenders for medals in the mixed event because it’s something new.
History beckons if Clark and her team-mates could pick up medals in this fascinating inaugural running of the event.
Her main focus, however, is the women’s 4x400m in which she has enjoyed remarkable success over the past two years.
Clark won World outdoor silver at London in 2017, World indoor bronze at Birmingham (2018), European outdoor bronze at Berlin (2018) then European indoor silver at Glasgow earlier this year.
She said: “In the women’s event we are always expected to be challenging for a medal and it’s no different this time. The team management have set us that target.
“But it’s going to be extremely difficult. Our main rivals will be USA, Jamaica and Poland, so we’ll see.
“However, it has been such a weird season, anything might happen.
“The world championships are so late. It will depend on who has managed to get their season planned right in terms of not being over-tired by this time of year.”
It has certainly been a season of mixed fortunes for Clark who, for the first time in eight years, was unable to improve on her best individual 400m time.
There were signs of getting back to her best last month at the British championships in Birmingham where she finished third and achieved a season’s best time of 52.18sec.
She said: “I feel I’m coming into form at the right time. It was always about trying to peak at the end of what has been a long season.
“I surprised myself by finishing third with a decent time at the British championships, so hopefully I can go on to run well in Doha.”