Paralympics 2012: GB's Libby Clegg targets sprinting success

Libby Clegg and guide runner Mikail Huggins

Some physiotherapy tubing stuck together with electrical tape could be sprinter Libby Clegg's secret weapon as she prepares for the London Paralympics.

The 22-year-old Briton, who is visually impaired, uses the device to stay connected to guide runner Mikail Huggins when she competes.

"Everything has to be in sync when you run," the Loughborough-based Clegg told BBC Sport. "It is a bit like doing the three-legged race but attached by your hands rather than your feet.

"To execute the run properly you need to be smooth and in time, with both the pace and the stride length correct. Mikail and I need to communicate to make sure our performance is the best it can be."

At the age of nine, Clegg was diagnosed with Stargardt's Macular Dystrophy, a condition that also affects her two younger brothers. She only has peripheral vision but has not let that stop her sprinting career after being spotted by UK Athletics when she was 14.

Clegg, who won 100m silver in Beijing, has been working with Huggins for the past two years after he took over the role from his step-father, Lincoln Asquith, a former GB athlete.

The pair won 100m gold together at last year's World Championships in New Zealand before warming up for London 2012 with double gold at the European Championships in June and a new 100m personal best.

"I have to trust Mikail because I am running at full pelt," said Clegg. "He talks throughout the race, indicating where we are in the bend, whether I need to accelerate or hold or relax and he always tells me to put my chin back in because I tend to push it out when I run.

"He definitely has the harder job. All I have to do is run, which is the easy part. He has to talk and run.

"We get on well both personally and professionally but I feel sorry for him because I can be moody when I am competing. He knows when not to talk to me before racing. "

For Clegg, London 2012 will be a family affair. Younger brother James, 18, is a member of the GB Paralympic swimming squad, which means a busy schedule for their supporters.

"My parents need to get into training now because they will have to sprint between the two venues to see us both competing," she said.

"I'm a bit gutted I won't be able to cheer James on but at least I will see him on 7 September, which is my mum's birthday as well. Hopefully we can give her a good present with some medals."

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