Libby strikes gold in Rio

Libby Clegg
Libby Clegg

Borders sprinter Libby Clegg survived a protest from a rival runner to reach the T11 100m final in Rio – and deliver Scotland’s first gold medal of the Paralympic Games.

The Newcastleton athlete beat the world record, previously held by Brazil’s Terezinha Guilhermina, in the semi-final – but then a claim was made that Libby’s guide Chris Clarke had dragged her during the race, contrary to rules.

HOWever, Britain’s appeal against the protest was upheld, which meant the 11.91 seconds world record stood, and the duo could run in the final.

Libby (26), in her third Paralympics, following silver medals in the T12 class at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, claimed gold with victory in 11.96 secs. She won the race in front of a tough home crowd, with local favourite Guilhermina disqualified after finishing fourth.

“It’s been a bit of a tough day,” said Libby. “I thought they were going to protest Chris being so close on the line with me, because we know that we cut it fine. I never thought it would be through dragging.

“I’d never want to dishonourably win a medal or cheat or break the rules in any way. I was a little bit upset that allegation had been made against me. I’m just glad I’ve got a fantastic technical support team that fought my corner.”

Libby suffers from the deteriorating eye condition Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, which means she only has slight peripheral vision in her left eye and is registered as blind.

Her eyesight has deteriorated, leading to her reclassification from a T12 to a T11 sprinter – and which meant she had to compete in a blindfold, something she did for the first time at July’s Anniversary Games in London.

“It is still terrifying. It’s really exhilarating at the same time though,” she added. “It is a little bit daunting listening to that many people, especially cheering for someone else.”