Joseph Clark was a keen footballer at Westlake Boys’ High School until he was noticed running by Thenus Strydom, the schools’ distance running teacher. Strydom convinced Clark he should take running seriously and the results have been spectacular.
Clark is the Auckland Secondary Schools intermediate Cross Country Champion and has been involved in Westlake’s successful three and six man teams that have captured national honours.
Additionally he is the open Auckland and North Island 2000m steeplechase champion. Clark has only competed in the event twice and on both occasions cleaned up. On Saturday he improved his personal best by 13 seconds in claiming North Island honours.
Next week Clark will represent New Zealand in Budapest, Hungary in the teams’ event at the World Secondary Schools’ Cross Country Championships. Clark’s achievements are a real reflection of his discipline.
“When I started running my attitude was pretty casual. I would just turn up, but when results started to go my way I decided to work harder and the sacrifices I have made have helped me reach some of my goals,” Clark admits.
Clark suffered a violent flu before the National Cross Country Championships in Dunedin last year and faded badly to finish a disappointing 18th place. As the Auckland Champion he was given a lifeline by the New Zealand selectors and took up steeplechase running to improve his endurance and speed.
”Steeplechase requires more strength than cross country because of the hurdles. Building up strength in my legs has helped improve my speed. I have enjoyed the new challenge,” Clark says.
Hungary will present a formidable challenge. Clark concedes it’s a venture into the unknown.
“I don’t really know a lot about Hungary, the course we are going to run or the competition we are going to face, but I know it will be tough. We have raised a lot of money to get there so we are determined to do our best.”
The six-man Sacred Heart College team will also compete at the Championships.
New Zealand Cross Country TeamChristian Conder (Captain) – Wanganui Collegiate School
Joseph Clark – Westlake Boys’ High School
Nick Moulai – St Bede’s College
Isaiah Priddey – Hamilton Boys’ High School
Mitchell Small – St Andrew’s College
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