Marshall and Milton Keynes sprinter Chris Clarke has been given his first Diamond League race for two-years in Brussels after British number-one Adam Gemili was forced to withdraw from the 200m. The chance to race against the world’s best half-lappers is well deserved for Clarke after his impressive 20.22 clocking, which puts him at number-two in the UK rankings, at the recent Bedford in CAU Inter-County Championships.
Clarke has been threatening to make his senior breakthrough for the last few years, after winning 5-English Schools’ titles and both the World Youth and European Junior Championships in 2007 and 2009 at 400m. He was also part of the GB 4x400m squad at the Daegu World Championships. But the past few seasons have been a struggle for Clarke as he has switched between the full and half lap sprints; unsure of where his future lay. At the 2012 British Trials, he doubled up and finished third in the 200m final after only managing third in his heat of the 400m. At this year’s trial, he concentrated only on the 200m and was unfortunately disqualified in his heat.
The bad result at the GB Trials aside, his decision to specialise in the 200m only appears to have paid off, as this season has seen Clarke smash his personal best and run consistently good times. His time at Bedford would have been enough to win the British title this year, and may have got him a final slot in Moscow. Tomorrow’s race is a quality field, and includes World silver medallist Warren Weir and Britain’s James Ellington, and will give the 23-year old a real test to close his season.
Hopefully, this late chance to prove himself on the world stage will act as confidence boost for Chris as he prepares for next year. The 2014 season could be set for an epic showdown between Clarke and Gemili as they vie to become the country’s number 1, having both run the A-standard. Both men are still young enough to get even better, and either one could break the UK record in the next few years
The Diamond League from Brussels will be shown live on BBC2 tomorrow from 7pm.