Skate star Libby Clegg insists she’s on a “downward spiral” after topping leaderboard in first week

Libby Clegg with her Dancing On Ice partner Mark Hanretty. Photo: itv.com
Libby Clegg with her Dancing On Ice partner Mark Hanretty. Photo: itv.com
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Newcastleton track star Libby Clegg made her dancing debut on the ice on Saturday, and gained the highest points from the judges after a breathtaking performance.

The 29-year-old Paralympian, who is registered blind, took to the ice with her dance partner Mark Hanretty on ITV’s Dancing On Ice, and delivered a leaderboard-topping showstopper to Jackie Wilson’s Reet Petite.

It included several lifts, including the death-defying aeroplane move, where Mark held her legs and span around, with Libby’s head inches from the ice.

The routine scored an impressive 28 out of 40 and even brought a tear to the eye of seasoned judge and ice dance legend Christopher Dean.

Her outstanding performance is all the more spectacular when you factor in her disability ... she suffers from Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, which leaves her with only relative peripeheral vision in her left eye.

She was watched from the sidelines by her fiancé Dan Powell and their baby boy Edward, who was born in April last year.

She told us this week: “That really was too much fun ... I really enjoyed myself.

“The aeroplane spin was actually the easiest lift of them all, it just looks really scary.

“It all went really brilliantly. It shocked quite a lot of people, but none of them more than myself.

“The judges were all really lovely and their comments were fantastic.”

Before going on Dancing On Ice, Libby says she had only ever been on the ice once ... when she was aged 12 or 13, for her sister’s birthday party at the Border Ice Rink in Kelso.

She said: “When Mark started training me for this, I was so bad.

“He has been brilliant. He even had to change the way he teaches ... where he used to be able to demonstrate the moves, he now has to be more descriptive.

“And he is so supportive, I know he’s there and he makes me comfortable and confident on the ice.

“Without Mark, I’d be absolutely screwed, to be honest.”

Libby is working in around 10 hours a week training for the show between looking after Edward and training for her return to the track.

However, although she has been roundly congratulated by judges and fans alike, she believes it will only get tougher,

She said: “Sunday’s show was brilliant, don’t get me wrong.

“But all the other competitors are sensational, especially Perri (Keily).

“I think I just feel like I’ve peaked and now I’ll be on a downward spiral.

“Next week’s show sees all the dancers together in one show, and it’s musicals week.

“It involves some really emotive stuff, with a strong element of acting in it, which my face will tell you I’m not entirely comfortable with.

“They want to believe you are in love with the person you are dancing with, so this could be a fairly weak week for me.”

Libby said she is continuing working towards her return to the track as she sets sights on the Olympics in Tokyo later this year.

At the last Olympics in Rio in 2016, she won two golds in the T11 100m and 200m, breaking the world record in the former on the way.

She was made an MBE in the 2017 new year honours list for her services to athletics and charity.