Having lived in four continents, Milly Clark is relishing a return home to Launceston but would be happy to accommodate another major international appointment.
Cutting a massive 12 minutes off the Tasmanian record when finishing second in the Gold Coast Marathon last week saw the 30-year-old dietician set up the mouth-watering prospect of back-to-back Olympic appearances.
After a frustrating 18 months dealing with three stress fractures in her right foot, the 59-second personal best time of 2:28.08 was 82 seconds inside the Olympic qualifying requirement and came as a pleasant surprise nearly two years after her last marathon.
"I knew I had put in the training but had not run as quickly leading in so did not really know if the fitness was there," she said.
"I felt like I was running faster but my last marathon was in August 2017 so it was the unknown that scared me if I could hold on.
"I pushed really hard and at halfway thought I could get a 2:30 but really wanted to go for an Olympic qualifier (2:29.30). I thought I had to really go for it and by 35ks I knew I could do it."
Clark's finishing time moved her up to ninth on the list of all-time Australian marathon runners and decimated both her own and her state's previous bests but, inevitably, the Olympic carrot was the biggest appetiser.
Having savoured her sport's biggest stage three years ago in Rio de Janeiro - where she was the first Australian home in 18th - Clark is eager to return in Tokyo next year.
"Now I know what it's all about I'm thinking I can go in a different frame of mind," she said.
"The last time it was all new and exciting but this time it could be a bit special because it is closer to home and not such a huge time difference.
"Tokyo will be so different to Rio in the way it is organised. You could not really compare them. And with that experience under my belt, I know how to handle nerves and work towards the top 15 or even top 10 this time.
"That gives me something to work towards and make every training session count.
"As soon as I got home my brother said he had already looked up flights to Tokyo. It does shift your focus a bit. After all that time off I was thinking the Games were not a possibility but after last Sunday it suddenly becomes a possibility again and I have that extra spring in my step again when training."
With a mother (Margaret) who had been a gymnast at the Commonwealth Games and world championships and an aunt (Liz Jack) who went to the 1976 Olympics as a diver, Launceston-born Clark developed her running at East Launceston and Youngtown primary schools and Youngtown Little Athletics Club.
It was the unknown that scared meMilly Clark
With both parents international school teachers, Clark left her native Tasmania aged 11 and moved to Germany for two years before continuing her education in Indonesia followed by a scholarship to Drake University in the US state of Iowa and then the University of Sydney.
But last September she returned to where she always referred to as home and said she is loving the stability of life in East Launceston.
"It took a while to get set up with a job and network of friends and re-adjust but it was probably the best decision I've made in my life to come home. I love it here and would never ever move away again.
"My partner and family are here, my brother is about to have a baby so I'm about to become an aunt.
"I feel everything is coming together."
That goes for Clark's running too.
Despite the injury layoff, she took little time returning to winning ways claiming the Run the Bridge 10km in Hobart in February before adding a 5000m in Melbourne, 1500m Tasmanian title in Hobart and the Canberra Half Marathon in April.
"I like to run races as a way to get fit. It's a good way to get back and a confidence booster.
"Having the stress fractures was just the worst. They take so long to heal because you are constantly on your feet.
"I had the better part of a year when I did not run then I've had six months returning.
"I started running in January and it took four months to start feeling normal and fit again and it's only in the last 12 weeks where I've felt more confident and like my old self.
"I love to run around Evandale down to Nile and Blessington - where a lot of the cyclists train. I do my longer sessions there, or Heritage Forest, Hoblers Bridge, West Tamar Highway, Beauty Point ..."
Ironically, Clark recorded her Olympic qualifying time in the same week that King Islander Stewart McSweyn achieved the same feat over 1500m.
Along with Launceston's Josh Harris, the trio of long-distance specialists were teammates at the 2017 athletics world championships in London and Clark would relish more Tasmanian representation at the next Olympics.
Along with Victorian training partners Sinead Diver and Ellie Pashley, she is among three Australian women to have run qualifying times.
"Three females get sent and three of us have a qualifier so if no-one else runs faster all three will go," she said. "I'm ranked third so if someone does go faster I've got to overtake them.
An incredible 3:31.81 from @Stewy_mac3 in the 1500m at the Monaco DL meet. A new Tas record & second on the Aus All Time list behind MTC stable mate Ryan Gregson. Gregson set the Aus Rec of 3:31.06 at the same meet in 2010. Video https://t.co/ElacpNQV7ypic.twitter.com/Ri4Tcw0UNr— UTAS Athletics (@unitasathletics) July 12, 2019
"It's a bit hard to pick what I'm going to do over the next 12 months as to whether I need to run another marathon but I do feel I have now found my pet event."
Clark also has a new goal to aim for in Japan.
Since finishing 18th in Rio, a couple of drug bans to rival athletes have seen her result amended to 16th.
"It's nice to jump up a few spots," she said. "By 2020 I might be top 10."
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