BORDERS sprinter Libby Clegg has spoken of her devastation at being pipped to a gold medal in the T12 100-metre final at this years London Paralympic Games.
Addressing an enthralled audience at Friday night’s Ettrick & Lauderdale Sports Awards ceremony, the 22-year-old from Newcastleton said: “I found the whole thing a bit stressful and a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, but, despite being a bit surreal, it was an absolutely phenomenal experience and the support from the crowds was amazing.
“After my 100-metre race I was absolutely horrific and not someone that anyone would want to be around. I was disappointed in myself.
“I went to the Games expecting to get two gold medals (T12 100m and 200m sprints) and that didn’t happen. I’m really hard on myself and anyone who knows me well knew I was devastated.
“It was only 24 hours later when my coach told me to get my arse in gear that I think I got over it.”
She continued: “Looking back though I’ve got to be pleased. I recorded a new personal best every time I ran, held the world record for about three minutes and when I look back at the races I can’t think of anything that I could have done differently.
“I haven’t been training over the past four years to come second though, so I suppose it will always bug me a bit.”
As well as paying tribute to her supporters, including mum Moira and the other Clegg family members, Libby also spoke highly of guide runner Mikail Huggins.
“He definitely has the harder job. All I have to do is run, which is the easy part. He has to talk and run.”
Libby has a deteriorating eye condition known as Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy disease, which has left her with only slight peripheral vision in her left eye, and is registered blind. Her brother James has the same condition and was also competing in London where he won a bronze medal in his swimming event.
“It was a bit strange knowing that James was there too,” added Libby. “The timing of our events didn’t allow for us to be together much, but it was strange in the fact that it doesn’t happen a lot. He performed so well and I was really proud of him.
“He will be carrying on towards Rio the same as me, so hopefully we can go out there together. Once you experience the Olympics it makes you want more – and we have both got the bug now.
Libby’s “honesty is the best policy” philosophy has served her well over the past year as she has been thrown into the spotlight, both promoting and reliving the Paralympic experience.
She told us: “Because of the high profile of the events this year, the Paralympic contenders have been more in the public eye and it has been quite interesting. It wasn’t until I had finished competing that I realised how big the Paralympics have got.
“I was actually quite gobsmacked about how it had excelled and progressed.”
Libby explained: “I find sometimes that adults find asking questions awkward, where as the children I speak to just fire in there with the questions. I don’t mind at all and am happy to speak about anything.
“The whole experience has been great really and the media coverage this year has helped expose more people to disability and the acceptance of it. Hopefully, that kind of exposure will continue to grow.”
Having already gained a double gold at the European Championships in the summer, Libby is now focusing on next year and the World Championships in France.
“My training started again in October and that is me really right the way through to July,” she added. “I was just itching to get going again and can throw myself heart and soul into winning that gold medal.”