WATCH: ‘Zoey Clark: Fighting Back’ – Our superb short documentary

Wednesday 13th December 2023

Photo by Bobby Gavin

Urbane Media (videographers)

Olympian and triple Commonwealth Games athlete Zoey Clark has revealed the full extent of the injury which has threatened her career.

The GB and NI international, a medallist at so many events over the past decade including with Team Scotland at Birmingham 2022, is on the comeback trail after a serious back issue.

Zoey could not even stand when the disc and nerve problems first flared but long months of rest, recuperation and rehabilitation exercises have ignited her hopes for 2024.

And the full story is shared now via a special documentary put together for scottishathletics by Aberdeen-based videographer Calum McCready of Urbane Media.

With support from her family, her coach (and partner) Ryan Oswald and her training group at Aberdeen Sports Village, Zoey talks tentatively about an Olympic target for next year.

‘I’m hesitant to put performance goals on my radar but of course I would absolutely love to get myself to Paris for the Olympics next year,’ she said in the film: Zoey Clark – Fighting Back.

‘The Olympics are on the horizon. I am taking winter training on a day-by-day basis. I’m getting there and it is improving.

‘If I recover as I hope, I feel I have unfinished business with the individual 400m. I’d love to improve my PB and make a team as an individual.’

Those few sentences conceal and camouflage many weeks and months of frustration for the 28-year-old who landed World Champs silver at London 2017 in the GB and NI Women’s 4x400m Relay team and went to the 2021 Olympics for Relay action.

‘Athletics is such a big part of my life and it has been for about half of my life,’ she tells Calum.

‘I was OK as a junior and managed to win some relay medals with GB and NI on age group teams (European Champs at U20 and U23 level).

‘But my breakthrough was really in 2017 when I won the British title. I was on the team for the Women’s 4x400m at the World Champs in London – and we won silver medals. It was my first major international event as a Senior.

‘I was then on teams for six years in a row. I went to the Olympics in 2021 and that is the highest point in the sport. It does not get any better than that, really.’

Zoey was at her home track in Aberdeen to help present medals at our 4J Age Groups back in August (photo by Bobby Gavin)

Injury struck in mid-January of 2023 after a 60m run.

‘After opening my winter season with a  60m indoors, a couple of hours later I basically could not stand up straight.‘I had ongoing back issues and did not really understand them.

‘We got MRI scan which confirmed I had basically slipped a disc and compressed the sciatic nerve.

‘I was given a realistic time scale of one to two years and was hit the bombshell that I might never regain full nerve functionality. It’s not what you want to hear as an athlete.

‘There was no quick fix and a real setback.

‘I avoided surgery thankfully and underwent a lot of physio and exercise. I’m trying to get back to my best self.

‘I’ve been at a certain level and I need to remember to be kind to myself. I might not be able to do everything I could before – or maybe I can but just not as well (as fast) as before.

‘It’s tough. It has not been smooth.

‘My family, my coach and my training group have all been really good. I think I have not been the easiest person to deal with given frustration over the injury. If you forget to enjoy yourself, then basically you are lost.’



Tags: Aberdeen, Urbane Media, Zoey Clark

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