ATHLETICS: Clarke feeling at home in Oxfordshire vest

Oxford Mail: Lawrence Clarke on the way to victory in the 100m at the Oxfordshire Championships Lawrence Clarke on the way to victory in the 100m at the Oxfordshire Championships

Hurdler Lawrence Clarke says he is delighted to finally be representing Oxfordshire as he bids for a place at the Olympics.

The 22-year-old, from Christmas Common, near Watlington, broke the county 100m record on his first appearance at the Oxfordshire Track & Field Championships.

Clarke, who won a bronze medal in the 110m hurdles at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, clocked 10.64secs to take the Oxon title at Horspath Road on Saturday.

He told the Oxford Mail: “Oxfordshire is the county I want to race for. Hopefully, in the Olympic trials I will be running in an Oxfordshire vest.

“It is always the county I have wanted to represent.”

Clarke won the UK 110m hurdles title last year and represented Britain at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

But although Oxfordshire is his home county, he has previously competed for Berkshire at junior level because he went to Eton College.

Clarke trains in Bath alongside such athletes as world 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene and is looked after by Malcolm Arnold, who coached Colin Jackson.

He said: “I started training for the Olympics when I left school in 2008 and that has always been my big aim.”

His main rivals for a place in Britian’s Olympic team are world bronze medallist Andy Turner, Andy Pozzi and William Sharman.

The Oxfordshire man is in good form this season, already achieving the UK Athletics Olympic A standard of 13.52secs.

Clarke, whose club is Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow, did that when winning the UKA test event at the Olympic Stadium in 13.50 on May 6, despite a headwind.

He now needs to finish in the top two at the Olympic Trials in Bir-mingham to guarantee a place at London 2012.

“I want to focus myself on the Olympic Games,” said Clarke.

“You don’t really know how the others are doing as races and conditions can vary.

“It all comes down to that race in the Olympic Trials on June 24.”

Clarke was supported at the county championships by staff and pupils from Summer Fields School, Oxford as he is a former pupil, but he admitted: “When I was at Summer Fields I wasn’t particularly good at athletics!”

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