Commonwealth Games: Hampden Roar excites Libby Clegg

Scot Libby Clegg managed to record a season's best time while winning the 100m at the Anniversary Games. Picture: Reuters
Scot Libby Clegg managed to record a season's best time while winning the 100m at the Anniversary Games. Picture: Reuters
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LIBBY Clegg soaked up the home atmosphere again yesterday but it’s the prospect of the Hampden Roar that has her most excited.

Clegg, a double silver medallist at last week’s World Championships, stormed to victory over 100m at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games yesterday in a season’s best 12.18sec.

It caps a week to remember for the 23-year-old Scot and guide runner ­Mikail Huggins, silver medallists at last year’s Paralympics, after she also learned her T12 classification would be included in the disability sports schedule for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“I can’t say how excited I am to have my event at the Commonwealths for the first time ever, it’s going to be so special,” said Clegg.

“I moved to Scotland in 2002, went to school there and really consider myself Scottish, so wearing that blue vest and competing at Hampden Park – that’s going to take some beating.

“I’m just very lucky to be competing at a time so many events are here in the UK. Last year’s Paralympics was going to be hard to top but the atmosphere for this event was just as good. I also know it will be electric in Glasgow when the Scottish athletes are competing.”

Clegg has been winning medals since she burst onto the world scene as a 16-year-old. In addition to Paralympic ­silvers from London 2012 and Beijing 2008, she is a former world champion and reigning European champion.

And the best news for next year is China and the Ukraine don’t pledge ­allegiance to the Queen, meaning arch- rivals Zhou Guohua and Oxana ­Boturchuk will be absent in Glasgow.

“I was a bit disappointed in Lyon to be beaten by four hundredths – if I’d run this time there I would have been the world champion right now,” said Clegg.

“You can’t dwell on that though, I’m just pleased to run a quick time and get to compete in front of a sell-out crowd here again.”

Paralympic athletes were given ­centre stage yesterday on day three of the ­Anniversary Games at the Olympic ­Stadium, and Brazil’s Alan Oliveira blew the controversial debate over running blades back open with a stunning 100 metres world record.

His American rival Richard Browne warned the IAAF, the athletics world governing body, to brace themselves for more legal challenges as amputee ­sprinters fought for the right to compete at the Olympics.

Oliveira shattered his own T43 double amputee record by winning in 10.57, with Browne second in the mixed-class race in a T44 world record, for single ­amputees, of 10.75.

Great Britain’s Jonnie Peacock, the London 2012 champion, was third in a British record 10.84 as Paralympic fever returned to east London.

Many of the stars of last summer, ­including David Weir, Hannah ­Cockroft and Richard Whitehead, returned with victories to delight a capacity home crowd.

But Oliveira, whose country will host the Olympics and Paralympics in 2016, showed he was the man to take the sport to a new level in the fastest amputee race ever.

Browne, 21, said: “Sub-10 is most ­definitely possible. If anybody can go sub-10 it’s one of those guys who just crossed the finish line in record-breaking times. If anybody can do it, it’s us.

“Oscar [Pistorius] broke down so many doors for us and we all owe him gratitude because he showed the world it’s not just crippled people trying to run.

“We will break the able-bodied barrier, to the point where we have it all together. There’s going to be more than one in the able-bodied Olympics by 2016.

“The IAAF are going to have to be ready. They have no choice – 10.57 – they have no choice but to get ready. They just need to get their rules ready, that’s all I’m saying.”

Pistorius had to win a lengthy legal battle with the IAAF, going through the Court of Arbitration for Sport, for the right to compete in the Olympics. His Cheetah blades were subject to scientific tests to determine whether they gave him an advantage or not.

Oliveira, 20, wears different blades – their height famously wound up Pistorius last summer – so he would face a whole new fight, always supposing he wanted to pursue the case.

Browne said: “I talk to a lot of the able-bodied guys and they accept us with open arms. There are no advantages here. If you cut Usain Bolt’s leg off, he’s not going to go 9.5. I guarantee you. We work harder than anybody in sport. Period.”

Oliveira, speaking through an interpreter, added: “They said we couldn’t get 10.5 and I got this. I am going to work harder and harder.”

The Brazilian, the Paralympic 200m champion, was rather less forthcoming about whether he might want the chance to compete against able-bodied athletes.

He said: “I want to compete in the Brazilian championships with able- bodied athletes, but I don’t think about international able-bodied competition.”

Peacock said he was “really annoyed” with his time given he had a 1.9m/s following wind. But the 20-year-old, a T44 athlete, claimed Browne was ­getting carried away with his time predictions, saying: “He loves to talk. He’s got great talent but I think 10.5 would be a great time for a [single] amputee to run.

“I’m not going to stand here in front of you and say, ‘I’m going to run 9.8 next season’, because it’s not going to happen.”

Peacock admitted there was a desire to run in the Olympics, but on whether an amputee could line up in the short sprint in 2016, he said: “In the 100m I don’t think you’re going to see amputees. You put us next to Bolt and we’re going to get absolutely destroyed in the first 20m.”

The T43 and T44 classes will be split in future championships.

This was also a day to celebrate for Britain’s Paralympic stars, with seven home victories.

Weir, the four-time London 2012 champion, rounded off the weekend with victory in the T54 mile in 3:16.40.

Cockroft repeated last summer’s ­domination by racing away to victory in the T33/34 100m in 17.80.

Whitehead, the some time marathon runner, some time sprinter who ­memorably roared from the last to first to win last summer, did the same again, blasting through on golden blades to win the T42 200m in 24.86.

Aled Davies, who won Britain’s first athletics medal of the Paralympics, triumphed in the F42 shot put, throwing a stadium record 14.31m. Dan Greaves, who had to settle for silver at London 2012, went one better this time as he won the F44 discus in 57.42m, moments after Graeme Ballard had won the T36 100m in 12.33.

• The Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games is the final event in the Sainsbury’s ­Summer Series. For more information on Sainsbury’s support of world class ­athletics and disability sport, go to www.sainsburys-live-well-for-less.co.uk/occasions/anniversary-games