Paralympic Games: Success is a family affair for Cleggs

IN THE pool and on the track it was a successful Clegg coalition at the Paralympics last night.

World champion Libby won 100m silver at the Olympic Stadium just 58 minutes after younger brother James had claimed 100m butterfly bronze at the Aquatic Centre.

Their parents, Moira and Peter, and supporters who included fellow siblings, friends and family from Newcastleton on the Scottish border, also set a Paralympic record for a time it takes to cover the normal ten-minute walk between both venues. And then repeated the trick to catch the respective medal ceremonies.

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Clegg, 22, found out her brother, four years her junior, had finished third just moments before walking on to the track.

Expectations were high after winning gold at last year’s World Championships but she’d seen the world record rewritten three times in two days with China’s Guohua Zhou the pre-race favourite.

Zhou didn’t improve the 11.91 second mark she set in the heats but still ran the second quickest of all-time in the T12 classification, while Clegg settled for a new 12.13 sec European record and the scalp of defending Oxana Boturchuk.

“I found out about James in the call-up room. Half of me didn’t want to know before my race but curiosity got the better of me and I asked an official to look it up on the internet,” said Clegg, who has a deteriorating eye condition known as Stargardt’s disease. “It was a big boost and lift for me because he was only really meant to be here for the experience. I’m so proud of him. He’s only a baby.

“I had to get a medal as soon as I heard, I couldn’t have my 
little brother beating me.”

But Clegg, who will compete again in the 200m later this week and was guided to victory by Mikhail Huggins, admitted there was a tinge of disappointment after arriving with hopes of gold. “I’m slightly disappointed but I couldn’t do anymore than I did,” she said.

Meanwhile, across Olympic Park her brother was struggling to comprehend his podium performance. As expected, Belarus’ world record holder Roman Makarau won gold by a clear margin, with Russia’s Sergey Punko and Clegg chasing him home. He clocked one minute exactly, slightly slower than his British record time in qualifying.

“I wasn’t meant to be on the podium. It’s my first Games and I didn’t really have any expectations,” he said. “I’m so happy with my swim. I came here wanting a personal best but to leave with a medal is really beyond my wildest dreams.

“Libby has been a brilliant help for my first Games. She’s always there supporting me and telling me what to expect. She said the crowd would be amazing and she was right.”

David Weir added a golden finish to the night, sparking deafening cheers in the stadium.

The 33-year-old, who won the athletics team’s only two golds at the last Paralympics four years ago, confirmed his status as the world’s best wheelchair racer with victory in the T54 5,000 metres.

Weir was urged home by the 80,000 crowd, the roar which went round the stadium on his final lap rivalling that which pulled Mo Farah to Olympic
victory less than a month ago.

• Bank of Scotland, proud supporter of ParalympicsGB and proud partner of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Get closer to the Games at bankofscotland.co.uk/London2012