It’s a pity as I was in my best condition ever

The irony of the Tokyo Paralympics being postponed was not lost on champion sprinter Libby Clegg MBE, as she reckoned she’d been at near-peak fitness.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 3rd April 2020, 11:00 am
Libby Clegg (library image by OnEdition)
Libby Clegg (library image by OnEdition)

But the visually-impaired running ace, who turned 30 last week, fully understood the reasons behind the mass call-offs of sports events and putting the Olympics/Paralympics on hold for a year in a bid to combat coronavirus.

“It’s a challenge we’ve got to overcome and this needed needed to happen for the health and safety not only of the population of the UK but worldwide,” she said.

Libby, who has family links with Newcastleton and Langholm, said she’d been chilling out and getting back to normal family life with partner Dan Powell and baby son Edward, since finishing third earlier this month with professional skating partner Mark Hanretty on ITV’s ‘Dancing On Ice’.

She’d been training from home, unable to get to the track or the gym, but admitted she felt “a bit gutted” about the Japanese call-off.

“I am in about the best conditon I have ever been in,” she said.

“I had a bit of time off for the skating but felt really ready.”

She added Dan was in a similar position as a Paralympic judo entrant, so each understood the other’s disappointment.

It was announced this week that the Olympics would run in Tokyo from July 23-August 8, 2021, followed by the Paralympics from August 24-September 5 next year.

Meantime, the hole in this summer’s calendar would have various implications for qualifying competitions, end-of season breaks, winter training and other potential events.

“It’ll be a bit strange adding an extra year to the preparations,” said Libby. “It’s unusual.”

After taking part in the IPC World Championships, Libby represented Team GB at the Paralympic Games in Beijing 2008 and London 2012, winning silver medals at both for the 100m sprint.

At Rio in 2016, she excelled with two gold medals for the 100m and 200m, alongside guide runner Chris Clarke.

She later received an MBE for her contributions to athletics and charity.

After taking a break from athletics to look after her health, and giving birth last April to Edward, Libby returned to major competition at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai last November.

Unfortunately, she was disqualified in her 200m T11 semi-final because of a false start.

But she said she was delighted to have got so far on her comeback.