Clarke focused on Indoor glory
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Two medals in two years. Can Jamaican sprinter Lerone Clarke add to his ever-increasing silverware with a podium spot at next month's IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics?
First, he will need to make the cut. But with the sprinter responsible for the fastest time in the world this season over 60m (national record 6.47) and two of the three fastest times over the distance so far, it's almost a certainty that Clarke will be making the trip to Istanbul, Turkey.
The sometimes forgotten sprinter, who announced his Indoor intentions and pedigree in Birmingham at the recent AVIVA Grand Prix - where he got the better of more fancied compatriots Nesta Carter and Asafa Powell in a close finish - has set his eyes squarely on success at next month's showpiece.
He remembers the Birmingham win with much pride and, while he is aware there are no guarantees, especially in the explosive nature of the 60m, Clarke's most recent achievement has given him real belief, as far as a World Indoor Championships title is concerned.
"Well, I'm extremely happy with the win. I was up against a great field of individuals, who are known great sprinters, so to get a victory at Birmingham was very exciting," Clarke told The Gleaner.
He added: "I wasn't surprised at the win. I know they're fast and that anything is possible; win or lose, but I've been doing well from my previous two races, therefore, in order for me to lose I would have to be beaten with a sub-6.50s run."
Given his form, Clarke knows he's ranked among the favourites.
"I wouldn't say confident, but I know I'm viewed now as a contender for such. However, my main aim is just to first get there and go through the rounds and hope first for a medal. If I gain another title, it'll be another of God's great blessings in my life," Clarke said, before pointing out that he has not even started thinking about the outdoor season as yet.
"Hopefully, my next race will be Istanbul, so now I am just awaiting the JAAA to contact me and let me know if I've been selected. At the moment, I'm not sure when I'll open the outdoor season yet, so (I'm) just trying to take care of this Indoor season first and we'll see then," said Clarke.
Based in Missouri, Clarke, who is trained by noted Jamaican coach Victor 'Poppy' Thomas, is embarking on his fourth Indoor season as a professional. This follows a couple of largely successful years Indoors as a student at the Lincoln University.
The 30-year-old, a member of Jamaica's 2009 Berlin World Championships gold medal winning 4x100m squad, is looking to take his current form throughout the season and qualify for what would be his first Olympics.
"I'm really focusing my goals on a successful season and topping that off with making the Olympic team, yes. I've been in several major championships now, but I've never been to an Olympics, so now I'm hoping to add one to my career," he said.
"I'm convinced it'll be a hard team to make, whether in the individual event or the relays, so I'm just trying to be prepared for it all and we'll see how that all goes at the end of June."