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Thunder rolls in as Clegg causes a storm . . .

THERE was no lightning Bolt at Hampden last night but a thunder rolled from the stands and across a track where stood a young woman shaking from the exertion of victory, exulting in scenes she could barely see but surely felt.

The men's 100m final was made a footnote in Glasgow last night as Hampden revelled instead in the triumph of Scotland's Libby Clegg in the para-sport 100m T11/12. Picture: Nick Ponty
The men's 100m final was made a footnote in Glasgow last night as Hampden revelled instead in the triumph of Scotland's Libby Clegg in the para-sport 100m T11/12. Picture: Nick Ponty

Libby Clegg, 24, had just won the para-sport 100 metres T11/12 gold medal, the first track and field gold medal for Scotland since Yvonne Murray's 10,000m title in 1994.

Clegg and her guide, Mikail Huggins, took 12.20 seconds to zip away from the rest of the field. It took her 30 minutes to complete a 400-metre circuit on her lap of honour.

There may be someone who was among the 44,000-plus at Hampden last night who wakes up this morning without a selfie with the champion. But that would only be because the battery on their phone failed.

For the record, she pointed out she had met in the stands "two different people from school, my mum, my boyfriend, my dad, my boyfriend's uncle Tommy, Mikhail's family . . ."

In short, everybody but her dug, Hattie, who is on holiday in the Borders with her sister.

Clegg, who suffers from Stargardt's Macular Dystrophy disease and is registered blind, has known success, not least a silver medal in the London Olympics, but at Hampden last night she achieved something wonderful in a Games that is dispensing lifetime wishes with the generosity of a drunk genie on Christmas Eve.

As Scotland collects a haul of gold that would sate Captain Jack Sparrow, there is a temptation to cast the winsome Ms Clegg as the heroine in a version of Pirates of Cathcart. She was certainly the darling of the crowd on her joyous voyage around the Hampden track but her performance deserves some sober assessment.

Running with a guide and with limited sight, she careered home in the 100m in just under a second more than it took Gloria Asumnu of Nigeria to finish eighth in a women's final won imperiously by Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, in a Commonwealth Games record of 10.85. Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart, both of Jamaica, took the other medal positions.

Okagbare's victory was as a emphatic as that of Clegg. Huggins believed that their race was won after 60 metres so it is reasonable to suppose there is more to come from the pair who now prepare for the European championships. Clegg, then, is fast. She may become even faster.

Her triumph, though, is particularly praiseworthy for reasons beyond any patronising comments about the disease that has affected her life. She excelled at one of the most difficult tasks faced by an athlete: she took the burden of favouritism and carried it as lightly as the Saltire that rested on her shoulders as she celebrated with an affecting exuberance.

Clegg has been tipped for gold for all of two years following her run at the London Olympics yet she greeted her audience in Hampden with an attitude that reflected her will and spirit. Her philosophy has been that one can welcome the pressure or crumble under it. One cannot, however, escape it.

She stood on the starting line last night and embraced the moment with a passion. When the stadium cheered her name with a fervour that suggested Scotland had just qualified for the World Cup, Clegg answered with a smile that may have been quiet but spoke loudly of how she viewed what was being laid before her. Hampden in the evening sun was where she wanted to be.

The gun went off and a little more than 12 seconds later she was slapping the hands of Huggins and then crouching as waves of sound move towards her. Her procession around the track then began and it was accompanied by a roll of thunder from the crowd. There is the hackneyed Mexican wave. This was the Scottish tide of emotion, of that best of joys - the one that is shared. Clegg was the only Scottish success in the stadium last night, with Rachel Hunter and Susan McKelvie out of the medals in a hammer throw competition won by Sultana Frizell of Canada.

An honourable mention, though, must be made of Jason MacLean, the 18-year-old from Inverness, who finished fifth in the para-sport 100m T37 in a personal best in 12.93.

The men's 100m final was somehow, almost sacrilegiously reduced to a footnote. It was illustrious and dramatic but the fast men had to bow before the woman from the Borders who sensed glory and took it.

There may have been a Clegg-like roar if Adam Gemili of England had triumphed but he could only split Kemar Bailey-Cole, who won in 10 seconds flat, and Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica.

This was a Bolt-lite race with Usain reserving his energy for the relay but it was exciting and quick. Gemili, who finished in 10.1, has an assured future. The 20-year-old former footballer found Hampden to be a stadium where the goal of ultimate successive was just elusive.

He was greeted with a wave of noise but most of the passion had been spent on Clegg's victory and on the presentation of medals to her and Huggins with a rendition of Flower of Scotland that rattled Hampden.

It served as a rousing encore for what was a special night and an intimation of what fellow Scots Laura Muir can expect in the 1500m final and Eilidh Child in the heats of the 400m hurdles today.

But that is in the future. A Monday at Hampden left a glow that lingers. It was a night when Libby Clegg has made the most of her life and the most of her talent. She also, finally, made the most of the Games. There is a growing realisation that the people of Glasgow and Scotland are doing the same.

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