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Long way back! Lerone Clarke embarks on distant trek from surgery

Published:Thursday | February 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Andre Lowe, Gleaner Writer

In 2012, Lerone Clarke carved his name in Jamaican sprinting history, stopping the clock at 6.47 seconds in a 60-metre race in Birmingham.

It remains the fastest time ever recorded by a Jamaican over the distance, beating Michael Green's 6.49-second run, which was posted in 1997.

However, it has been a tough road since for the 33-year-old.

Clarke spent much of the 2013 season contending with a series of injuries, which he later learnt were associated with a problematic knee. He had to cut his season short in 2014 after only four appearances and undergo surgery on his left knee in September to address the issue.

A Commonwealth Games 100m champion in 2010, Clarke told The Gleaner that he is getting stronger with each passing day and while he has not completely written off the chance of trying to qualify for this year's IAAF World Championships, the sprinter says his focus is to ease into his recovery and prepare himself in the best way possible for the 2016 season.

"My problem started in the 2013 season when I pulled up in a meet in Germany. I didn't know what was going on and was told that I had injured a tendon," said Clarke. "The injury bothered me all the way through 2013 and into my training in 2014, so the small meets that I ran last year were really just to test to see if my legs could hold up for competition.

Season Cut Short

"When I got to the point where my season was really supposed to start, I did an MRI and was told then about the extent of the injury. I then had to cut my season short," he further explained.

"I actually did surgery in September of last year, so I have been in therapy since then, trying to work and get my muscles and so forth strong enough to once again compete at a high level," added Clarke, who is based in Missouri, United States.

Clarke's surgery cost US$7,500 and was partially covered by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association.

The athlete confirmed that he would be sitting out this Indoor season.

"My training just started, really, but I'm making slow and steady progress. I basically just do some jogging right now, so it's coming along," Clarke continued.

"I definitely won't be competing in this indoor season. I decided not to focus too much on trying to compete this season, even though I would definitely like to kick off the season at some point this year. But my main goal is for next year," he said.

"It's been a tough process," admitted Clarke. "After pulling up the first time, I was back in training after about two weeks, but I started having a lot of related injuries, so I didn't know exactly what was going on. A lot of people kept saying it was a muscle injury. As you know, I came to trials last year and couldn't pass the first round, but I was having the issues then.

"It's not like a hamstring injury that you can recover from in decent time. Just knowing the amount of pressure that I need to apply to the knees in trying to run fast, I have to be training myself mentally and physically to put my foot on the ground with all the force like I know I need to, so it takes a lot of meditation and conversation with folks who have been in a similar position," Clarke shared.

"It's not an easy thing, it's difficult, but I have to stay focused and believe in myself that I can come back to where I was before and even better."