streettalk (2007-49)

Hazel ClarkTwo-time Olympian, training for her third

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Street Talk

Whatâ’s it like to train in Knoxville? And why are you here?

I love living in Knoxville. My training partners tease me because I love it so much, but I feel like I am meant to be here. I came because my brother is the head womenâ’s coach at the University of Tennessee. I am so glad I am here, itâ’s such a great community to be a part of and a wonderful place to train.

Is all of your current training aimed purely at the 2008 Olympics?

This year all of my focus is on the 2008 games. I strongly believe that you have to take things step-by-step, and you canâ’t look too far ahead. I just got married to Wenston Riley, so now I am able to focus solely on my running. Itâ’s really cool because we have so much camaraderie and he is a great support along with my family and friends.

Whatâ’s it like coming from a family that has such an established track legacy?

Being a part of the Clark family is very special. I am very proud of my family. What we have is unique. It is not a coincidence that we have had success. We all support each other, and we believe in hard work and discipline. I have a wonderful coach, my brother J.J. Clark, and wonderful parents. Making the 2000 Olympic team with my sister and sister-in-law is still the highlight of my career. It was a special moment. It gives me goose bumps to think about it.

How has your father, Joe Clark, influenced your sports career? (The film Lean On Me was based on Joe Clarkâ’s life.)

My father is extraordinary. He is such a great dad. He sacrificed so much so that we could have everything we needed to be successful. He is a disciplinarian, which is important, but he also is the kind of dad who you can always depend on. He came to all of my meets as I developed and he was the first person to tell me I was a runner. I was very reluctant to run, so my dad suffered through my figure skating, tennis, horseback riding and basketball. I wasnâ’t good at any of those sports but he never missed an event. Now, I was no Kristi Yamaguchi, but my dad spent a lot of money renting ice rinks, paying a private coach and getting expensive costumes for me to compete as a figure skater. He drove me all over the country and sent to me to camps so that I could follow my dreams. Not every parent will do that for their children. I am very fortunate. When you have parents like mine you have no reason to fail. â" Greg Wilkerson

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All content © 2007 Metropulse .

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