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Beijing bound: shelayna oskan-Clarke

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Shelayna Oskan-Clarke

After consistently running under 2:01, finishing second at the Sainsbury’s British Championships and sealing her qualification for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, we caught up with the brilliant Shelayna Oskan-Clarke after her breakthrough season.

Shelayna congratulations on a fantastic season so far and gaining selection to the IAAF World Championships in Beijing. Were the World Championships always a target for you this season?

It was always the goal, me and my coach had the goal of indoors (European Indoor Championships in Prague) and the World Champs. I have been trying to get to a major championships for a while but haven’t quite made it; I missed out last year and the year before, so I am so glad that we have achieved the goals we set this year.

And you have continued to improve as the season has gone on, you ran another personal best at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games, how was that experience in the Olympic stadium?

It was a great atmosphere. I competed there at the BUCS Championships in 2012 in the 400m so I knew it was a fast track. The race itself wasn’t great, I was in lane two and so I needed to get out faster than I did to avoid getting myself boxed in, but I still managed to run a PB. I am happy I am running those times but I will be a lot happier once I get under that two minute barrier!

Your first senior British vest came at the European Indoor Championships in Prague earlier this year; do you feel like you took a lot from that experience?

It was disappointing because I definitely could have run a lot faster, but I took a lot from it and it made me realise I have got to take my chances and I can’t afford to lose concentration during the races. As soon as you get to the championships, everyone is really on it, they are there to perform and so I need to go to Beijing and do the same to get the best out of myself. I don’t want to come away feeling like I’ve sold myself short.

 So what are your overall expectations for Beijing? Is it to run a personal best or to reach a certain stage in the competition?

I think I just need to take each round as it comes. I would obviously love to run a PB and I’ll probably need to run one to get through the rounds anyway. Everyone can run two minutes so I’ll need to go quicker. I don’t want to limit myself with targets and I know that in a championships, anything can happen.

What do you do when you’re not training?

I graduated from University with a degree in Sports Science and now I do personal training around my own training. It is great because I can be flexible with the work and it allows me to be geared towards my running. I try not to take on too many clients because it can be quite tiring!

Do your clients know how good you are at running or are you just ‘Shelayna the personal trainer’ to them?

I don’t talk about it too much with them, they know I run and some of them are very interested and have kids that love sport. Sometimes I talk to the kids and give them little pep talks which is good fun.

Looking forward to next year, the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio must be right at the top of the list of priorities?

Definitely, I’ve qualified for the World Championships so there’s no reason why I can’t qualify for Rio. I would love to get under the two minute barrier and be more competitive, so hopefully I can qualify.

How much of a relief will it be to see a one minute…something next to your name?

I’m not sure it will be a relief because I know that I am definitely capable of it. I think for a while I didn’t really trust in my own ability or trust what my coach thought I was capable of. But now I’ve realised that my coach’s belief in me is right and I can do it. I have also learned this year that I need to be patient; sometimes I think I expected too much of myself and I just need to trust that it will eventually come.

You have risen steadily through the ranks in the last few years and have had relatively uninterrupted progress, do you think that has been a key factor in your development?

Yes, I am not very injury prone; I am quite a strong athlete so I don’t get that many injuries. I am able to maintain any niggles that I have, so that in itself is a very good thing. I also make sure I work on my core and do lots of strength work to avoid injury.

To get to the level you are at now and to push on even further, you have to do more than simply turning up to the track to train. What other things do you do to help you?

I nap! I love a nap. I make sure my diet is on point; I try not to eat lots of sugary things. I do love chocolate but I try not to eat it too often! I make sure I get plenty of rest to help me recover. I have been doing this for a while now so I am very used to it. I feel like I need to sacrifice those things in order to reach my goals and I am happy to do so if it means I will get the results I want. It’s not just me, it’s my coach and everyone who supports me, they put a lot into it and now we are getting the results. 

Follow Shelayna on Twitter throughout the IAAF World Championships here.