Track Beauty of the Week: Georgie Clarke

Georgie Clarke is this week’s track beauty!

Athletics is a sport where mature, full-developed athletes rule. In fact, athletes below 16 years old cannot compete in the Olympics or the senior IAAF World Championships. Clarke is a rare, once in a generation talent. As a 16-year old, the Aussie competed in front of thousands of her screaming countrymen during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Clarke talks about her Olympic experience (Runner Space)

The Geelong-born middle distance runner went as far the semifinals – a big achievement for any athlete, especially for a teenager. Clarke narrowly missed the third slot in the 800m run, losing out to veteran campaigners.

Photos from Australia Athletics, Life and Geelong Advertiser

Clarke won her first national title at the age of 14. As a 16-year old, she ran the second fastest 1500m by an Australian (4:06.77). Her personal best in the 800m run in 2000 was a world class 2:01.73, faster than middle distance greats Steve Ovett, Steve Cram and Sebastian Coe when they were at the same age, according to a Cool Running article. Prior to the Sydney Olympics, Clarke lived in Europe to compete at the prestigious European circuit. An informative feature article by Running Times Magazine, accurately depicted the athletics prodigy’s difficulties in living out the elite athlete life. At such a young age, she was uprooted from her comfort zone. Clarke was unhappy, according to the article.

Photos from Geelong Advertiser, 101 West Photography and Running Times Magazine

Since her stellar performance at the Sydney Olympics, Clarke has been hounded by injuries, missing the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She suffered fractures in her spine. There came a point where the once-promising middle distance prospect could hardly walk without pain. But still, the 2001 World Youth Champion persevered. In 2008, despite running with a stress fracture on her foot, she missed qualifying for the Beijing Olympics by two-hundredths of a second. A few months later, her foot broke.

A lesser person would buckle under the pressures of constant defeat and chronic injury. Despite the pain of it all, Clarke did not waver. The following quote from Running Times captures the essence of the sport completely: “I always would look back to why I started to run. It was for the pure reason that I loved it, for the freedom and simplicity of it.”

True enough, Clarke is still at it. Most recently, the now 26-year old former child prodigy is at the top of the distance category in the 2011 Australian Athletics Tour. She ran a competitive 4:17 in the 1500m to finish first palce in the Brisbane Track Classic.

Indeed, her running days are far from over. With the London Olympics barely 2 years away, the prospects for an injury-free Georgie Clarke are bright.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Sources:

Running Times Magazine

Cool Running

Video Credits:

Runners’ Tribe

Runner Space

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