Superb Shelayna Shines with Sensational Victory in Scotland
As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week Miss Owusu, Head of Student Leadership, caught up with former Baylis Court School student and Great Britain athlete Shelayna Oskan-Clarke to discuss her recent victory at the European Championships in Glasgow and the importance of girl power.
Resilience, ambition and mental strength are the core ingredients that propelled former Baylis Court School student and golden girl Shelayna Oksan-Clarke to storm to gold last Sunday at the European Indoor Athletic Championships.
The current UK number one ranked 800m runner won the 800m title at the 35th European Indoor Athletic Championships in Glasgow on March 3rd at the Emirates stadium. 2016 Olympian, Oskan-Clarke, 29, led the race from the start to the end dominating a strong field and winning in a time of 2:02:58.
Oskan-Clarke said “My plan was to go out and control the race from the beginning.”
Coached by Jon Biggs, the husband of former 1992 Olympic 400m hurdles champion Sally Gunnell, Oskan-Clake and Biggs had discussed what race plan to employ depending on how the race would unfold. In the event of a challenge from the start Oksan-Clarke had planned to sit back and wait to lead the race. However, Oskan-Clarke was never really challenged and dominated the final.
The 2017 silver European indoor medallist whose team-mate Mari Smith finished fifth, exhibited a gutsy display of front running and held off a late challenge from France's Renelle Lamote in the final home straight. “I could hear the crowd getting louder and louder, and they encouraged me to keep going.” Oskan-Clarke said. “I know I’m strong but it is just about making the right moves at the right time. It’s hard indoors because if you don’t do that, it’s too late. I wanted to be out there early and hold on for home. I knew I’d have no regrets then.”
The win for Oskan-Clarke, was all the sweeter after she missed out on gold by one hundredth of a second two years ago in Belgrade, Serbia. Oskan-Clarke said “I learned many lessons from my performance two years ago. I knew I had to make some changes and be in the right headspace. In Belgrade I knew I could have won but tactically I made several wrong decisions. She added. "After Belgrade, I knew I was strong and knew I had more to give in those races. I had to make the right moves at the right time.”
Oskan-Clarke who studied A - Levels in Physical Education, Human Biology, Media and Psychology at Baylis Court school described her winning performance as “strong, confident and controlled”. Oskan-Clarke celebrated her victory by having fish and chips with her fellow team mates.
The former Brunel sports science student who trains six days a week between Brighton, Windsor and London only decided to compete indoors in January. “I love to compete, and to compete for a time.” she said. “I came into these championships relaxed and confident.”
Oskan-Clarke who has a personal best of 1:58.99 in the 800m believes that her greatest strength is her mental toughness and steel like approach to her training and competitions. “I have a strong mind and have always been very focussed. I always want to get the best out of myself and fulfil my potential”. Oskan-Clarke’s vigorous training routine involves a weekly mixture of 10 mile runs, strength and conditioning, track and hill sessions.
In the week we celebrate International Women’s Day it was female domination for Great Britain’s medal haul as girl power was displayed with several outstanding performances- Laura Muir’s brilliant double 1500m and 3000m win and bronze for Melissa Courtney, gold and silver in the pentathlon by Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Niamh Emerson, bronze for Asha Phillip in 60m, Holly Bradshaw won silver in the pole-vault and the Great Britain women’s 4 x400m claimed silver.
Oskan-Clarke admits that seeing her teammates win medals motivated her to go for gold.” The girls were strong and performed well. We motivate each other. This encouraged me to go and win a medal.”
Oskan Clarke who finished fifth at the Beijing World Championships in 2015 was inspired to take up athletics from her sporting experiences at school. “I loved all sports and was always an endurance runner.” She added “Ms. Jimmison really encouraged me to take up track and field. I started running when I was 12 but took it more seriously when I was 15.”
The World Athletic Championships will be the next main target in late September in Doha for Oskan-Clarke. “It will be a long season ahead”. The Slough based athlete has her eyes focussed on delivering her finest performance to date and surpassing her personal best on the track as she firmly establishes herself as one of the world’s best middle distance runners.
Oskan-Clarke who graduated from Baylis in 2008 once considered a career as a corporate lawyer but quickly discovered her true passion was athletics. Oskan-Clarke believes that all girls at Baylis should give sport a go. “Go out and do it, you may not get the results straight away, you will keep learning constantly and you will always want more. Have self-belief and faith in your dreams. If you have a talent go out and work hard”.