LAWRENCE Clarke has revealed he considered quitting athletics as injuries took their toll.
The 24-year-old sprint hurdler, from Christmas Common, near Watlington, experienced the highs of the sport when finishing fourth at the London 2012 Olympics.
But wrist and hamstring injuries left Clarke’s 2013 season a virtual right-off, denting the confidence that saw him target Olympic gold in Rio.
“Yes I had an existential crisis and almost quit the sport,” said Clarke, who will look to regain his national title at this weekend’s British Championships in Birmingham.
“It was extremely frustrating.
“You think when you come back after a broken wrist that you will be able to train at the same level.
“But a week back into training I tore my hamstring on the basis that my body had no endurance left.
“I was in a cast for 12 weeks and hadn’t done any weight training because I couldn’t use my hands.”
Clarke has bounced back well this year and clocked a season’s best time of 13.41secs at the FBK Games, which took him to second in this year’s UK rankings.
He said: “This year I made sure I had done everything and made sure that I was not injured so I am in a better place than ever, I think.
“I am a lot more comfortable hurdling and a lot more settled.”
Clarke won a bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi as part of an English one-two-three.
And he now feels he is getting into the shape to challenge for a medal again in Glasgow.
“I missed the indoor season deliberately to make sure that I came into this season fully fit,” said Clarke.
“I have taken a slow approach to the season, doing a lot of rounds and volume training at the moment.
“I am running very consistently now and hopefully things will continue to go well.”
Clarke joins fellow Oxon athletes Hannah England and Nathan Douglas in the field for the British Championships, with all three medal prospects.
England’s 1,500m heat will be from 8.10pm on Friday, with the final on Saturday (6.10).
Clarke’s hurdles heat will be from 1.35pm on Sunday and the final at 3.58.
Douglas’s triple jump final starts at 12.50pm on Sunday.
Clarke added: “June is when I’m hoping to run really quick.
“We had the plan that May would be more a time to test my endurance.
“That is why I was doing a lot of rounds, because the Commonwealth will be two rounds and Europeans three.
“Some people can run one race incredibly quickly, but when there are two rounds it’s game over so hopefully I will be able to build on that, but selection is hard this year.”
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