09:23PM, Friday 12 June 2020
Shelayna Oskan-Clarke says she’s looking to take the positives from the postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo and hopes to be in the best shape of her life when the games eventually roll around in 13 months time.
WSEH’s 800m specialist has spent most of lockdown in Philadelphia, where she’s been attempting to integrate into a new coaching set-up under Derek Thompson.
She’s also been recovering from an injury, which impacted the latter period of the 2019 season, so while the game’s being postponed is still a disappointment, there may be a silver lining for the 30-year-old.
Having won the European Indoor Title in Glasgow in 2019 Shelayna struggled at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, finishing 24th overall and failing to make the final. But she’s hoping that now she’s put her injury problems behind her – and is gaining new insight from her coaching team – she can replicate the kind of times she was doing back in 2015, when she came fifth in the World Championships in Beijing.
Last month she made a ‘surreal’ journey back from Philadelphia to the UK, and is keeping to a stricter lockdown than many as she bids to avoid catching coronavirus for herself and her family.
“No one wants to catch it,” she says. “And I’m also around other people so I’ve just got to be a careful as possible. But you’d want to do that anyway. But I guess, if I’m going to get it, now would be the right time when competitions are not on.
“It was difficult training for the Olympics and not necessarily knowing if they were going to be cancelled or not.
“For a while there was no real clarity and it was difficult. I was still training but I was using a lot of mental energy on wondering if the games would be going ahead.
“When it got cancelled it was like ‘ooof’, and it took a while to get used to that, Just mentally you were a little bit drained. So for a week or so I was just going with the flow. I took my time to get myself back into some kind of routine to maintain my fitness.
“I guess there’s a positive from it (being delayed) because I’ve had a change in training environment, and I can use this time to get used to the training and the coach in a way that’s less pressured.
“And it gives us a chance to build that sort of relationship. I’ve also had a really bad injury so it’s given me more time to focus on that and get some extra work in.
“I’ve also had a change in group environment.
“My training is now based in Philadelphia, and I also had a really bad injury in the winter and I was really pushing myself to be ready.
“Then, everything changed, but all the work we’ve been putting in won’t be lost. We just have to keep on pushing.
“I went back out to Philadelphia in February and then all of a sudden all this stuff was happening back at home and there was a lockdown. So I decided to stay in Philadelphia.
"But then things began to lockdown more over there and businesses were shutting. The focus of training changed, it was less intense but I was still able to train on my own and focus on my fitness. No one has any idea about what’s going to happen in the future, but I’ve just got to make sure I’m ready for when the time comes to return to competition.”
This period in lockdown has also given Shelayna some time to think about what she’ll do when she eventually hangs up her running spikes.
“I’ve started some courses and kept myself busy,” she said. “It’s given me a chance to focus on something other than running and to think about some of the things I’d like to do in the future.
“I haven’t been going out and pushing with a real goal in sights, because the Olympics is so long away now. It’s been good to have a different focus for a few weeks.”
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