A TEAM of dedicated athletes are flying the flag for the Lothians as they aim to go faster, higher and further than ever before at the London 2012 Paralympics Games.
Seven homegrown talents will take to the track, pool, judo mats and football pitches as they bid for gold in the highest tier of sporting endeavour against more than 4000 other athletes.
This year’s competition has more than 503 gold medals up for grabs, with several Capital prospects hoping to earn a place on the winners’ podium.
Former ballet dancer Libby Clegg, 22, will be the Lothians’ only track representative and will be eager to go one better than the T12 100m silver medal she achieved in Beijing. The former middle distance and cross country runner, who was a student at the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh, will also compete in the T12 200m.
Her brother James Clegg, 17, from Musselburgh, will be competing in the pool. The swimmer has several British records in the S12 classification – 50m and 100m freestyle, 100m individual medley, and 100m butterfly – and insisted that much of the credit for his achievements should be attributed to Edinburgh’s recently crowned Disability Coach of the year, Don MacFarlane.
They will join another former pupil, Lee Brunton, 18, who became involved with football after beginning to lose his sight at 12 years old.
Pupils at the Royal Blind School recorded messages of support for their three former students, and shead of the Games Cari Mannion, deputy headteacher at the school, said: “Libby, James and Lee were all great role models while at school. All three demonstrated what people who are visually impaired can do. They work with determination and great spirit to do their very best. They have been, and continue to be, an inspiration to us all. We are all eagerly awaiting their performances at the Games.”
Other local paralympians taking part include veteran athlete Jim “The Swim” Anderson, 49, who will be determined to swell his major haul of six gold and nine silver medals since making his swimming debut at the Barcelona Games in 1992.
The Broxburn ace, who was made an OBE in 2009, suffers from cerebral palsy and honed his technique at Edinburgh’s New Trinity College before scooping honours at international competition. He is set to make a splash in the 100m freestyle, 50m backstroke and 50m freestyle.
Also in the pool, and competing at his second Games, is 22-year-old former Lasswade High School pupil Sean Fraser who hopes to add a gold medal to his collection after experiencing a podium finish in Beijing four years ago.
Footballer Blair Glynn, 26, who lives in Tranent, and judo star Sam Ingram, who is visually impaired, are also on the GB team, and Sam, who won bronze in Beijing in 2008, said: “It has taken a lot of hard work to reach this point and I have high ambitions for the year.”
We are the champions . .
• Libby Clegg: Formerly a keen ballet dancer, Libby took up athletics aged ten, competing in middle distance and cross country running before taking up sprinting. She made her Paralympic debut in Beijing in 2008, winning a silver medal in the T12 100m.
• Blair Glynn: Blair, from Tranent, East Lothian, has been playing football for more than 18 years. His most memorable moment on the pitch was scoring his first goal for Scotland against Canada.
• James Clegg: James, from East Lothian, started swimming whilst he was at the Royal Blind School and will make his Paralympic debut at London 2012. During trials for the Games James broke Ian Sharpe’s 12 year-old British record in the S12 classification.
• Sam Ingram: Sam, who lives in Edinburgh, burst on to the international judo scene at the European Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in 2007, where he finished fifth. He won a bronze in Beijing 2008.
• Lee Brunton: A former pupil of the Royal Blind School, Lee got involved with five-a-side football after he began to lose his sight when he was 12. He made his international debut at the 2011 IBSA World Games, in Turkey.
• James Anderson: Jim “the Swim”, from Broxburn, is one of the more experienced members of the British team having competed at every Paralympic Games since Barcelona 1992.
• Sean Fraser: Sean, from Edinburgh, started swimming lessons aged six and has now been competing for 13 years. During his Paralympic debut in Beijing in 2008, Sean won bronze in the 100m Backstroke (S8).