Glasgow 2014: Libby Clegg lights up the track

Libby Clegg with guide Mikail Huggins and, below, Clegg with her gold medal. Pic: Greg Macvean
Libby Clegg with guide Mikail Huggins and, below, Clegg with her gold medal. Pic: Greg Macvean
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Speedy Edinburgh paralympian Libby Clegg lit up Hampden Park with a golden smile last night after winning Scotland’s first Commonwealth Games track title since Musselburgh’s Yvonne Murray’s 10k win in 1994 when she won the T12 100 metres in a season’s best of 12.20 secs.

Loughborough-based Clegg, aided by guide Mikail Huggins, finished over a second clear of nearest rival Maria Elisa Muchavo of Mozambique, with Lahja Ishitile of Namibia third.

Visually-impaired Clegg, a silver medallist in the London 2012 Paralympics, milked the applause of the near-capacity 40,000 crowd.

“I was totally aware of the crowd beforehand and it was so uplifting,” said the 24-year-old full-time athlete.

“I didn’t feel any huge pressure over the past couple of years, to win this medal but I was definitely a little bit nervous this morning.

“I didn’t realise it was the first gold medal since Yvonne won in 1994 – wow, that’s a big thing.”

There was drama in the high jump qualifying even before it began yesterday when Capital hope Allan Smith failed to show up and was listed on the start list as DNS (does not start).

The British champion and a bronze medallist at last year’s European Under-23 Championships, South Queensferry’s Smith might have been an outside chance of a medal had he matched his best of 2.26m.

But instead Commonwealth Games Scotland issued a brief statement: “Allan Smith has withdrawn himself from the team.”

ScottishAthletics could shed no further light on the matter.

Whether that affected Smith’s fellow Scots David Smith and Ray Bobrownicki is difficult to say, but Glasgow’s David Smith, who moved to Loughborough with his namesake to train with coach Fuzz Ahmed, crashed out at 2.16m after clearing his initial height of 2.11m.

Edinburgh University student Bobrownicki looked as if he was going to bomb out even earlier in the second group when he failed 2.11m twice.

But the 30-year-old cleared that height at the third attempt and went on to clear 2.16m first time and 2.20m at his second attempt.

That proved to be sufficient as only 12 competitors were left and they were not asked to try the automatic qualifying height of 2.23m.

By contrast, Scotland’s three male hammer throwers followed the example of the women and all qualified for today’s final, though not without a few anxious moments from Edinburgh’s 
Andy Frost, pictured left. Shettleston Harrier Chris Bennett had opened with a 68.01m throw in pool A, which proved sufficient, though he did take two more efforts of 64.27m and 65.79m.

Former Capital thrower and Scottish No. 1 Mark Dry was first to go in Pool B and opened confidently with 71.62m, well over the automatic mark of 70m.

Frost had a nervy start with 64.57m, but improved to 66.54 in round two and, though he failed to improve in round three (66.08m), went through with a place to spare. Scotland’s three female hammer throwers all gave a good account of themselves in yesterday’s final by improving on their qualifying throws.

Scottish champion Susan McKelvie (Edinburgh AC) threw 63.76 to finish sixth, with Ayr’s Rachel Hunter improving to 63.29 to finish one place behind, while Myra Perkins (Falkirk), though failing to break into the top eight and earn three more throws, reached 60.16m for tenth place.

The winner with a huge new Games record of 71.97m was Kiwi Sultana Frizell.

Scotland’s 1500m medal hope Laura Muir (Dundee) finished third in her heat behind Hellen Obiri (Kenya) in 4:05.19, with England’s Hannah England right behind her.