'It's like a three-legged race but with hands': Blind sprinter Libby Clegg overjoyed that her guide is finally eligible for a medal too
Mikail Huggins, stepson of her former guide Lincoln Asquith, ensures Clegg doesn't veer out of her lane by holding hand through loopHe talks to Clegg throughout the race
London 2012 first Paralympics to award medals to guidesLibby's brother James, 18, also competing in Paralympics in the pool
10:10 GMT, 29 August 2012
Sprinter Elizabeth 'Libby' Clegg already has a Paralympic medal (a silver one pocketed in Beijing), but winning one this week would be extra special.
Not only is London 2012 a home games for the 22-year-old Scot, but her brother James is also competing in the swimming pool.
And if that wasn't enough, it is also the first games in which Clegg's running guide Mikail will be eligible for a medal, too.
Libby Clegg in action with Mikail Huggins during the womens 200m race at the AVIVA Birmingham Grand Prix in 2011
In Beijing, only pilot cyclists in the tandem race were eligible for medals. But this time around the work of guide runners and
sighted goalkeepers in blind football will also be recognised.
To Clegg, Mikail Huggins is as integral a component to the T12 100m and 200m dashes in which she competes as her own arms and legs.
'You have to be completely in synch and get the start absolutely right,' she says of the relationship she has with Huggins – who is, incidentally, the stepson of her former running guide, Lincoln Asquith, with whom she won silver in the T12 100m in Beijing. 'We’re kind of a team — wherever I go, he goes.'
Libby Clegg and her former guide runner Lincoln Asquith competing in the T12 200m in Beijing during the 2008 Paralympics
She told BBC Sport how thrilled she is that Huggins will finally get the recognition he deserves: '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.
'It's a team effort,
it's not just me. I'm the one that has to cross the line first, but when
I get medals I want Mikail to be with me because he helps me do it.'
Huggins himself said: 'It's a souvenir for the hard work and dedication I've put in.
One of the biggest things is being able to help someone achieve their
'I know that I'm Libby's guide, but we come as a team – if she
loses, I lose, and if she wins, we win as a team.'
Libby Clegg, left, and her brother James, right, in their official Team GB Paralympic portraits
Huggins accompanies Clegg on each of her races, ensuring she doesn't veer out of her lane by running alongside her and talking to her throughout.
They each hold one end of a rubber figure-of-eight loop made from physiotherapy tubing stuck together with electrical tape.
'I have to trust Mikail because I am
running at full pelt,' she says.
'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.'
Happily, the pair – who have been working together for the past two years – get on well both personally and professionally
Clegg worries she can get moody before races but Huggins has learned simply not to talk to her then.
Libby and Mikail get in sync in the T12 100m event during the BT Paralympics World Cup Athletics in Manchester in 2011
like her brother (18-year-old Paralympic swimming hope James), Clegg
suffers from the genetic, degenerative eye condition Stargardt’s Macular
Dystrophy, a disease which has left her registered blind, partially
sighted, with only peripheral vision in one eye.
She was diagnosed with the condition at the age of nine, took up running as a tool for coping while having a difficult time in school, and was spotted by UK Athletics when she was 14.
Speaking to the Mail, she said 'Last year I won gold in the 100m
and bronze in the 200m at the World Championships and achieved two gold
medals in the Europeans this year, so I’m hoping for two more golds in
'My younger brother, James, who is 18, is
also competing for Great Britain in swimming (S12 100m butterfly, 100m
and 50m freestyle), which is absolutely amazing.
'I hope our success will
inspire other young disabled people to get involved in sport. It’s
something I’m passionate about because it gives you so much confidence.
'I used to be quite shy, but now I think I’ve found out who I really am.'
Paralympic athletes (from left) Libby Clegg, Liz Johnson, David Weir and Baroness Grey-Thompson at the announcement for 2012 Paralympic ticket prices