With a new guide runner and a classification change in the run-up to Rio, Libby Clegg has been in fine form ahead of her third Paralympic Games
After personal best performances this summer, including a world record-breaking 200m at the Anniversary Games in July, Libby Clegg’s guide runner Chris Clarke believes the sprinter should definitely be aiming for two gold medals at the Rio Paralympic Games.
Clegg, who claimed T12 100m silver medals at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympics, started working with GB international and 20.22 200m man Clarke in February and her fine form this year is proving that the new partnership and hard work is paying off.
“Considering I only started guide running in February it feels like we’ve come a long way in a quick time,” Clarke told AW. “I’m so happy for Libby and I’m just looking forward to seeing her do her best.”
Things haven’t always gone smoothly, though, as Clarke explained: “I’m a confident guy so at first I was like, ‘I can do this’, but then we had our first races together and ran really slow in the 100m and 200m and I was a bit like, ‘oh God, what have I done!’ But you just have to keep at it like anything and we just got quicker and quicker.”
So quick, in fact, that not long after being reclassified as a T11 runner, which means she must now wear a blindfold to compete, Clegg clocked 24.44 at the IPC Grand Prix Final in London to take 0.23 off a world 200m record which had been set by Brazil’s three-time Paralympic gold medallist Terezinha Guilhermina in 2012.
The 26-year-old has also improved her 100m PB to 12.11 this summer, with Guilhermina’s world record also set in 2012 standing at 12.01.
“She has trained so hard and is in great shape,” Clarke said of Clegg. “I don’t want to put any pressure on her but I think she should be aiming for double gold in the 100m and 200m. I think she should have that as a goal – no pressure though!”
A talented sprinter in his own right, Clarke has been balancing work with his own athletics career and guide running in 2016 and is proud to form part of the ParalympicsGB team.
“This year was a bit manic because I was working and guiding and trying to do my own career. I didn’t run as well as I would have wanted personally but next year I think will be a good indicator of if it can all merge successfully. I don’t see why not,” he said.
“I’m very humbled that I get to share this journey with Libby,” he added. “It’s a very friendly team and I’m just really honoured to be a part of it.”
» Libby Clegg and Chris Clarke contest the T11 100m heats at 2.31pm BST on Thursday September 8, with the semi-finals and final on September 9, while the 200m heats and semi-finals take place on September 12 ahead of the final on September 13