Family joy as Libby completes golden sprint double in Rio

Libby Clegg with guide runner Chris Clarke (picture by onEdition)
Libby Clegg with guide runner Chris Clarke (picture by onEdition)

Pride and delight reigned in the Clegg household on Tuesday night as athlete Libby accomplished her Paralympic dream.

The sprinter from Newcastleton clinched gold and set a new Paralympic record in Rio de Janeiro as she won the T11 200 metres final.

This complemented the glory of her T11 100 metres final victory on Friday.

Libby (26) now has a brace of gold medals to add to the silvers she won in her two previous Paralympic appearances, in London and Beijing.

On Tuesday, Brazil’s home favourite and fastest final qualifier, Terezhina Guilhermina, was disqualified for a false start.

But Libby still ran a powerful and decisive race to win in 24.51 seconds, supported by mum Moira, sister Felicity and brother Stephen, who was due to compete in the swimming heats in Rio as we went to press.

“The whole family is very proud of her,” said dad Peter (50) at the family home. “She has really worked hard.”

He added: “I knew what she was capable of, but you never know who is going to turn up and produce something. I was confident – but it’s all on the day, isn’t it?”

Libby has the degenerative eye condition Stargardt’s macular dystrophy and her sight has declined, causing her to be reclassified for the Paralympics. She now has to compete blindfolded, which, although “daunting” at first, has not hindered her success.

She told TV viewers she had “massively surprised herself” and she wouldn’t have believed nine or 10 months ago that such a win was possible.

Libby also had around £20,000 in Lottery funding axed because she missed the IPC World Championships last year through injury, while in February, she switched to a new guide runner, Chris Clarke.

Peter added Libby was funding herself after her injury and her personal sponsors doubled what they were giving her, which meant she could train the way she wanted. “It was good of them to have confidence in her,” he said.

Peter said Libby was heading to Mexico for a holiday after her Paralympic return, but the family would probably celebrate eventually with a party, in Newcastleton or in Langholm.