WHAT’S not to love about Libby Clegg? She is one of Scotland’s best gold medal hopes for Glasgow 2014 and, as impressive as she is on the track, she is a joy to meet off it. Open and honest, there is a warmth that belies the steely competitive spirit which helped her to a silver medal in the T12 100m at the London Olympics.
“It’s obviously fantastic to find out I’ve been selected now ahead of next year. I can acknowledge the fact I’ve been selected and get on with the hard work now really,” she said at this week’s first Team Scotland announcement. “Sorry, did that sound dull?”
Dull, is not the word anyone would use for the 23-year-old athlete who, thanks to a condition called Stargardt’s Muscular Dystrophy, is only partially sighted.
Bursting with excitement, she talks about her boyfriend, her love of handbags, Usain Bolt and trackside sickness as she admits that, while early selection has relieved some of the pressure, it hasn’t helped her in training.
“It gives me and my coach the opportunity just to get together and we can really make sure our plan is put in place and that we’re fully prepared for the Commonwealths.”
After a brief break, she is already immersed in close season training. “It’s just started and it’s horrible! My coach is a little bit mean and will make me do some horrible sessions,” added Clegg. “I’ll be going away for a warm weather training camp in South Africa again and, hopefully, get some really good, solid work done out there. Hopefully, I can then just come into the season really fit, healthy and injury-free. That’s the plan, anyway.”
The thought of competing in front of the home crowd makes it all worthwhile, as does sharing the billing with the track athletics’ top draw.
“I think my event is on the same night as Usain Bolt. I’ll tell myself the crowd’s there for me! I’ve got a really exciting night and the atmosphere in the stadium will be incredible.”
Then there’s the added incentive of a new handbag…
Her boyfriend Michael Maltman is a rugby player hoping to make the Rugby 7s team for Glasgow and Clegg admits that, while he is delighted she has secured her chance to represent Scotland, there is a slight tinge of jealousy given that he remains on tenterhooks.
“I got my official selection on an e-mail yesterday so I was like – Ha Ha!’ But, hopefully, he’ll be there as well and I’ll get to see some of the rugby. He’s got a while until he finds out [if he’s been selected] but everyone’s getting really excited about it, everyone’s talking about it and I think everyone wants to be there, don’t they?”
While Clegg’s coach rewarded her with a tough training session and she decided not to mark the announcement with a shopping spree, she is hoping for something special if she delivers on her golden promise.
“I’m desperate for a Mulberry handbag and I’ve told Michael that’s what I want. Hopefully, he’ll get me that next year if I win!”