Libby Clegg’s Paralympic notebook
Well there were a few twists, turns and dramas along the way but as I sit here in Rio with two gold medals around my neck I have to say it couldn’t have gone any better. A bit less stressfully perhaps but I am absolutely delighted to be a double Paralympian champion after adding the T11 200m on Tuesday night to the 100m I won last Friday.
At this point it has only been a few hours since my win in the 200 and it is all still a bit of a blur. I spent a long time in drug testing and by the time I was done at the stadium last night my family and friends, who I believe made an appearance on the TV after my race, had left the building. But I was able to meet up with my boyfriend who had only just flown into Rio for work. He wasn’t at the stadium but it was good to catch up with him. I’ll be catching up with the rest of the gang over the next few days.
It will feel good to be able to relax a bit now and enjoy some of the sport and atmosphere of the Games. The past few days have obviously been absolutely incredible, the highlight of my athletics career, but I must admit to feeling a sense of relief that it’s all over.
There has been so much build-up and a few hurdles to get over which I covered in my first column and then the racing itself became a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.
The worst of that, obviously, was my initial disqualification for what was adjudged to be illegal pulling by my guide runner Chris Clarke, and then subsequent reinstatement to the 100m final.
It will feel good to be able to relax a bit now and enjoy some of the Games. The past few days have obviously been absolutely incredible, the highlight of my athletics career, but I must admit to feeling a sense of relief it’s all over.
The emotions actually came after I’d won the gold because during the hours between the semi-final and final when the appeal process was going on I was actually remarkably calm. I knew it was out of my control and I was kind of in the mindset that if it didn’t go for me then I still had the 200, which is my favourite event.
Thankfully I got back in and, despite not getting the best start, I ran a great race and put in that big dip at the finish, which is just as well as I only won it by two one hundredths in the end.
Of course, I was elated but I would be lying if I said the DQ didn’t take a bit of a shine off things in the immediate aftermath. I felt a bit upset and hurt about it, almost like my reputation had been questioned. Then, as I was waiting for the medal ceremony I knew another protest had gone in, so that wasn’t ideal. But any negative feelings didn’t last long and it was good to have a two-day break before the start of the 200m to clear my head and get prepared to go again.
It won’t surprise you to hear that there was a bit more drama to come as Chris took ill on the morning of the heats. He hadn’t eaten anything and I know he gets migraines so I asked if he was coming down with one. He said ‘no, when I get a migraine my eyes go funny and I vomit’. Then just as we left the hotel he threw up everywhere, bless him.
Needless to say we weren’t at our best in the heat but got through then, thankfully, Chris felt a lot better for the semi-final and we qualified well. Tuesday’s final was an incredible experience. There wasn’t a huge crowd in the stadium but they made so much noise and were obviously supporting their Brazilian hero Terezinha Guilhermina.
The crowds have been really supportive of all the athletes though so it didn’t feel intimidating. Unfortunately, Terezinha was disqualified for a false start. I was actually annoyed to be called back as I felt I had got my best start of the week.
In a way it would have been better to have won with Terezinha in the race but getting that gold is what counts. I am so grateful to my coach Joe McDonnell, who has two gold medallists as Sophie Hahn also won the T38 100m, and everyone who has helped me get to this point.
I’m now looking forward to watching my brother swimming in his first Paralympics and enjoying the closing ceremony after missing the opening because I was racing the next day. I’ll fly home with the team and have a holiday before heading up to Scotland to see family and friends in Newcastleton, Langholm and Edinburgh.
Then it will be all about building towards the world champs in London next year and, if the body is willing, on to Tokyo 2020.
• Channel 4 will broadcast over 600 hours of the 2016 Paralympics across all platforms, building on the multi award-winning coverage of 2012 and continuing to transform perceptions of disability.