Visually impaired sprint queen Clegg in ‘best shape’ for Rio Paralympic bid

Visually impaired Bollington sprinter Libby Clegg is confident all roads lead to Rio after a promising start to the season.

Since picking up her second 100m T12 silver medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, it has been far from plain sailing for the 26-year-old with injuries, funding cuts and a change of guide all hampering her chances of performing consistently at the very top of the sport.

She was not named among the first 13 track and field athletes announced last month to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio – although the remainder of the team will be revealed at the end of this month.

And Clegg, who has been racing alongside new guide Chris Clarke since January, is determined to ensure her name is among that group.

The signs are promising too – last month Clegg ran a wind assisted 100m personal best time, while she was just over a tenth of a second over off her fastest ever 200m time.

And she believes that with a few more competitions under the belt alongside Clarke, then she can look forward to competing at her third Paralympic Games – alongside her brother James who has been selected in the swimming team.

“I’ve got a few races on really good tracks coming up so at the moment I’m concentrating on getting really good speed phase of training in so I can get ready to peak for then,” said Clegg.

“I’m currently in the start of my race season. I did start quite early actually at the back end of April.

“I do quite like to do a lot of races before coming into a Championships just to get back used to it really.

“For me, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in a long time. We ran last month and managed a personal best time so I know that we’re in really good shape.

“I’ve been working with Chris as my guide since the end of January and it’s going well.

“We’ve still got plenty of things to work on but we just need to get a couple more races in and get a little bit more experience with Chris during competitions.

“I’m very close to my 200m PB and I’ve only done one 200m. I’m really close to that.

“I just need to get a few more races with Chris in competition but I think I’m on good track to qualifying for Rio.”

As well as two Paralympic silver medals, Clegg also has six podium finishes to her name at World Championship level – although her last came back in 2013 before injuries hit.

Since then she has also had her funding cut, having been dropped from British Athletics’ World Class Performance Programme for 2015-2016.

Clegg has been able to turn to SSE however, who after backing the sprinter in the run up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow stepped in to help out again this year.

“In December last year I lost my funding my world class performance funding from UK Sport. So for me this year has been quite difficult but also quite liberating at the same time,” she added.

“I was very disappointed as I had been injured for two years in a row.

“SSE has been such a huge support to me and have helped me to continue to pay for my medical support, my massage and physio and doctors appointments.”

SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest @SSENextGen

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