World Championships 800m fifth-placer enjoyed a big breakthrough in Beijing
Shelayna Oskan-Clarke had not run under two minutes for 800m before the IAAF World Championships in Beijing but she excelled in the Chinese capital to break the barrier twice and finish fifth in her first major final.
Her PB prior to 2015 had been 2:01.94, set when finishing ninth at the Doha Diamond League, but the 25-year-old has improved on that a number of times this summer and ran a best of 2:00.60 at the London Anniversary Games a month before the championships.
In Beijing Oskan-Clarke clocked 2:01.72 in her heat before running 1:58.86 to book her spot in the final and move from 33rd to ninth on the UK all-time list. She then crossed the line in 1:58.99 for fifth place in a final won by Marina Arzamasova of Belarus in 1:58.03.
“I’m happy that I came here and managed to get to the final and compete with the best in the world,” she said.
“I really just wanted to hold on down the home straight, but I’m happy and it’s been a great experience,” added the British Championships silver medallist, who was beaten to the line in Beijing by Morocco’s Rababe Arafi but pipped Ukraine’s Nataliia Lupu – who clocked the same time as the Briton – into sixth.
Speaking after running her PB in the semi-final, she commented: “I’m so happy. It seems to have come together at the right time.
“I feel like I’ve been capable of it for a while.”
As well as providing a huge boost to the ever-improving athlete, the performance will delight her Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow clubmates and also her coach, Ayo Falola, who has sadly been given a terminal diagnosis after battling cancer for seven years.
“It’s great for next year and Rio,” said Oskan-Clarke.
“Ayo has been so happy, he is really proud. I’m sure he’ll be happy with the race, but because it is so close you are thinking what more you could have done.
“He’s proud of what we’ve achieved this week,” she added. “It’s been nice to do be able to do that.”