Cleggs nick Paralympic double
THE Clegg family are aiming to celebrate medal number three of the London Paralympics tonight (Thursday).
Newcastleton sprinter Libby lines up in the T12 200m heats at lunchtime today, and is expected to make the final at around 7.15pm in the Olympic Stadium.
Another medal would cap an incredible week for Libby, who secured a silver in the 100m on Sunday night, just minutes after younger brother James won an unexpected S12 100m butterfly swimming bronze.
Sunday’s drama left the non-competing members of the family breathless with tension and exhaustion, after sprinting between the two venues to catch Libby and James’ big moments.
Speaking from London, mum Moira Beattie told TheSouthern: “We were running around like maniacs between the Aquatic Centre and the Olympic Stadium.
“We had to dash from watching James win his bronze medal to the Olympic Stadium. We got through all the security and thankfully made it 20 minutes before the final.
“We then had to run back for James’ medal ceremony and we only just made it. We then raced back to to make Libby’s medal ceremony. It was a mad night.”
At the age of 18, James, who suffers from the same congenital eye condition as his sister, produced a superb sub-one minute performance to win his heat in a British record.
And although he was slightly slower, the teenager claimed third spot in the final at his first Paralympic Games, with a time of one minute exactly. James also made the final of the 100m free on Tuesday night, finishing eighth.
Afterwards, he told reporters: “I wasn’t meant to be on the podium, its my first Games and I didn’t really have any expectations.
“Libby said the crowd would be amazing and she was right, I’ve never felt such an atmosphere or support. She told me to embrace the crowd and use it to my advantage and that’s what I did.”
Across at the Olympic Stadium, Libby ran two personal bests in her 100m heat and semi-final, and hoped to go one better than her Paralympic performance of four years ago in Beijing when she finished second behind Ukrainian Oxana Boturchuk.
Libby, alongside guide Mikhail Huggins, ran another PB of 12.13 seconds – a European record – to beat Boturchuk in the final. But she didn’t account for Chinese athlete Guohua Zhou, who powered to the gold medal in 12.05 seconds.
Libby said: “I found out about James in the call-up room. Half of me didn’t want to know before my race, but curiosity got the better of me and I asked an official to look it up on the internet.
“It was a big boost for me because he was only really meant to be here for the experience.
“I’m so proud of him, he’s only a baby. I had to get a medal, I couldn’t have my little brother beating me.
“I’m slightly disappointed, but I couldn’t do any more than I did. We’ve run three lifetime bests in two days and that shows how tough it’s getting.”
It was a fraught but ultimately rewarding evening for James and Libby’s supporters who travelled to London, which included mum Moira and her husband Dougie, dad Peter, siblings Felicity and Stephen, and Libby’s boyfriend Michael Maltman, a member of the Scotland 7s squad.
Moira told us: “It was the scariest, but also proudest, moment of my life.
“I have to cover my eyes when Libby starts as I am scared she will false start and I cannot watch James until he enters the water.
“Libby says she cannot remember the race at all and that goes for Mikhail.
“We were expecting the main challenge to be Boturchuk, but the Chinese athlete came from nowhere. It was a bit of a shock, but Libby ran three personal bests so we cannot ask for more from her.
“We had fantastic support within Olympic Stadium, and I was told the roof almost came off The Trap in Newcastleton when Libby won the silver.
“I was just glad to see James make it into the squad because it is just an achievement to get in the team – the competition is so fierce now. For him to come away with a medal was such a proud moment for me.”
For the future, Moira says her daughter is aiming for Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Games, provided she can stay injury-free.
But as for her children’s remaining London events, with James also going in the 50m free on Friday, she said: “You don’t know what to expect – the standard is so high.
“It has been an amazing experience. I was in Beijing four years ago, but London has been so much better.
“The volunteers have been so helpful. Even when it is 11pm at night and you are coming out of the stadium tired, they are still cheering and smiling.”
The other Borders Paralympic athlete, Bonchester Bridge archer Kate Murray, 64, suffered defeat in both the team recurve open – finishing sixth in the first round alongside Sharon Vennard – and individual recurve W1/W2, where she was knocked out at the 1/8 elimination stage by Turkey’s Gizem Girismen.
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Weather for Galashiels
Wednesday 22 May 2013
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