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Six to follow: Maltman savours Hampden victory by his golden girl

IT doesn't take a genius to figure out Michael Maltman's favourite moment of the Commonwealth Games:

Libby Clegg with guide runner Mikail Huggins steals the show at Hampden   Photograph: Getty
Libby Clegg with guide runner Mikail Huggins steals the show at Hampden Photograph: Getty

watching his long-term girlfriend Libby Clegg winning gold for Team Scotland at Hampden Park.

Clegg, a double Paralympic silver medallist, stormed to victory in the T12 100m alongside her guide runner Mikail Huggins. The 24-year-old from Newcastleton in the Borders suffers from the deteriorating eye condition Stargardt Macular Dystrophy, giving her only slight peripheral vision on her left side, and is registered blind.

Maltman, one of the Sunday Herald's Six To Follow to Glasgow 2014, may have missed out on a spot in the Team Scotland rugby sevens squad, but he was determined to be there to support Clegg.

For Maltman, 23, it was a moment that had him both wracked with nerves and bursting with pride. "I had a sore throat for a couple of days afterwards," he laughs, when asked how much he cheered. "It was weird because it was really good to watch her but at the same time I hated it because it was so nerve-wracking.

"If you compare it to another sport, for example rugby, there if you do something wrong, you have the rest of the game to make it up. If you do one thing wrong over the 12 seconds of Libby's race, that's it. The nerves are always far greater watching Libby run than I've ever had playing sport myself.

"Once the race started I was OK, because Libby managed to get some good distance ahead. The worst part is the build-up, watching them do their warm-up and get into the blocks.

"I got to see her on her 45-minute lap of honour around the stadium and then it wasn't until the next day, late at night, that we caught up again because Libby was busy with her media commitments and everything else."

There was another joyful moment a few days earlier when Clegg and Huggins were chosen as the athlete oath takers at the opening ceremony in Celtic Park. "That was something really special to watch," says Maltman. "It was great for the equality and togetherness of the Games."

While Maltman had considered going to watch his former rugby sevens team-mates in action at Ibrox during the Games, he admits it came a little too soon. "I was offered tickets but in the end I decided not to go because it would have been too raw," he says. "There was me and a couple of other boys who didn't make the squad - Alex Glashan and Chris Dean - and we went to a local pub and cheered from there. It felt good."

Following Glasgow 2014, he and Clegg kept their celebrations low key, preferring to spend quiet time together at home to hitting the nightclubs. "After her race Libby was up at 6am every morning and not getting back until midnight with the amount of media stuff and other commitments she had," he says. "The best thing for her was just to chill out."

Although Maltman doesn't rule out a return to the pro ranks at some point, he remains resolute that he has chosen the best path. "You never know what the future holds, I guess," he says.

The couple moved from Edinburgh to Loughborough, where Clegg has her training base, shortly before the Games. Maltman has since started a new job teaching product design and engineering in a sixth form college in nearby Tamworth.

"I've joined a rugby club, South Leicester," he says. "I had my first training session on Tuesday which was fine as I still have a lot of my fitness from the sevens. It will just be good to get out there and start enjoying rugby again."

Susan Swarbrick

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