Friday, September 3, 2021

Silver for Clegg in thrilling final

Stephen Clegg has had to wait until the tenth and final day of the swimming competition to race his preferred event, the S12 100m butterfly, and he did not disappoint, winning his third medal from the meet, a silver, in what was a thrilling final to close out GBR’s swimming competition at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Clegg, who holds the world record for the event and who won silver at the World Championships in London in 2019, looked strong up the first 50m, going into the turn at exactly the same time as closest rival Raman Salei (AZE). The final 50 could not have been any closer but it was the man for Azerbaijan who touched home first to take the title in 57.81 with Clegg just 0.07 behind in 57.87. Roman Makarov (RPC) won bronze in 58.65.

Clegg commented after his race and said,

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, I came here to win and it is quite far short of where I wanted to be. I can’t really make any excuses, my prep coming into the meet was really good and I’ve been where I wanted to be in my other events.

“I think I lost the race this morning, I just wasn’t good enough. There’s no real excuse for it. I don’t want to stand here and say I didn’t get this because of X, Y or Z, that’s not my thing. At the end of the day, I’m in control of my race, there’s nobody else in the lane with me. Some days you just don’t have it and today was one of those.

“I can’t take anything away from Raman either, it was an amazing race and he just held on better than me. The heartbreak is I know I’m capable of going quite a bit faster and I wasn’t anywhere close to my best.

Speaking about the difficulties of visually impaired athletes spotting their turns, Clegg said,

“I was quite far out on my turn, I had a big, big, long glide in which is quite frustrating. But I lost that race on the back end rather than the first 50, and that’s frustrating as that’s what I’ve been working on the most this year.

“I do want to thank everyone who has brought me here, even though it isn’t the result myself or my team wanted. I’ve come so far the last 5-7 years. I started when I was 18 and I wouldn’t be here without all the coaches and team-mates I’ve had over the years. There are a couple of people that I really want to thank, Chris (Chris Jones, High Performance Coach) at Edinburgh Uni and the University itself who have gone to the moon for me this past year, given me all the pool time I wanted, and got me back in the pool really quickly. And also my first coach Bruce (Halloran, East Lothian Swim Team) who gave me a chance all those years ago. I wouldn’t be here without those people. When things go south those are the guys who are there for me and they’ll be there for me coming out of this. They are like family.”

Speaking about his future, Clegg finished by saying,

“I definitely want a gold medal from my career, so there’s no chance of me retiring any time soon. I’ll go away from this and come back with a vengeance for Paris.”

Clegg returns with three medals from Tokyo (one silver, 2 bronze), contributing to the 26 medals won by the GBR team in the pool, 8 gold, 9 silver and 9 bronze.

Full details on all the ParalympicsGB swimmers, go to the British Swimming website.

The start lists, schedule and results can be found HERE.

Watch live coverage across Channel 4's platforms, including More4 and paralympics.channel4.com

#ImpossibleToIgnore