CAPITAL siblings Libby and James Clegg made their supporters work as hard as they did at the Paralympics last night.
Libby, competing at her second Games, again won silver in the 100 metres while brother James, 18 and four years her junior, took bronze in the 100m butterfly.
It normally takes a brisk ten-minute walk to cover the distance between the Aquatic Centre and Olympic Stadium, but Team Clegg – mum Moira, dad Stuart, brother, sister, assorted family and friends – covered the ground in double-quick time.
And having watched James win his medal, they arrived seconds before Libby ran a new European record in her race, meaning a repeat of the silver medal she won in Beijing four years ago.
“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. “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.”
Clegg’s 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, briefly holding it herself, 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 second European record and the scalp of defending Oxana Boturchuk.
Clegg, who will compete in the 200m later this week and was guided to victory by Mikail Huggins, admitted : “I’m slightly disappointed but I couldn’t do anymore than I did. It was a really tough race and the standard was really high. We’ve run three lifetime bests in two days and that shows how tough it’s getting.
“Mikhail kept me calm through the race and told me to stay relaxed, keep pushing and then dip.
“Bring on next year now. I can’t wait. The World Championships are in Lyon and hopefully I will have a full winter’s training.”
However, brother James had no such thoughts – despite beating Ian Sharpe’s 12-year national record during the trials and becoming the first British swimmer in the S12 class to dip below one minute in the heats.
As expected, Belarus’s world record holder, Roman Makarau, won gold by a clear margin with Russia’s Sergey Punko and Clegg chasing him home.
“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. I’ve never felt such an atmosphere or support.
“She told me to embrace the crowd and use it to my advantage and that’s what I did.”
• James Clegg is a Lloyds TSB Local Hero and member of Team GB/Paralympics GB. Lloyds TSB is proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and supporter of Team GB/ParalympicsGB on their journey to London 2012.