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Hard work pays off for Jamaica's Clarke

Published:Saturday | March 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer

Hard work in the gym has paid off for former Vere Technical athlete Melocia Clarke.

Clarke won a surprise late call to the national team for the World Indoor Championships now taking place in Doha.

"When I received the call that I was selected for the Jamaica team to go to the World Indoor Track and Field Championships I wondered if it was true, as the team had already been selected and my name was not there," said Clarke, who was added to the World Indoor Championships squad as part of the women's 4x400 metres team, after the withdrawal of Shereefa Lloyd.

For 31-year-old Clarke, who retired from the sport for a few years because of persistent injuries, her hard work has paid off.

"I am happy to be part of the team and also happy that I changed my event to the 400 metres, because while doing the sprints I was having regular injuries with my quadriceps muscles," said Clarke, who lives and trains in New York.

Lead-off runner

Clarke was the lead-off runner on a successful Penn Relays 4x100m team for Vere Technical in the late 1990s. That team included Veronica Campbell-Brown, Aleen Bailey and Natalee Sterling.

This will not be the first time Clarke will don the national colours, however. She has in the past been a member of the National Under-25 team, senior CAC team to El Salvador and the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England, in 2003.

Clarke, a long jump and 200m silver medallist at Boys and Girls' Championships, has had a rocky road since leaving high school. Her biggest disappointment came in Birmingham.

"I was selected to compete in the 60 metres but I did not get to run the event. While doing my warm-ups I felt my right quad and when they checked it out it was torn badly. I was really disappointed and I actually quit that same year," she said.

However her passion for the sport remained and she returned in 2007.

"I returned to the sport because of my passion for the long jump," she said.

Clarke, however, soon gave up the long jump and after a change of coach took up the 400m.

"When I went to the Jamaica Trials in 2008 I ran 52.30 seconds in the semi-final of the 400 metres and it felt very easy, as I had much more in the tank and there and then I realised that this was the event for me," concluded Clarke, who stated that when she did her season best of 53.70 seconds in Boston she was running off "pure strength" at the time, and is now ready to go much faster.