Borders Paralympian speaks out on recognition of disabled athletes

Great Britain's Libby Clegg with guide Chris Clarke during the Women's 200m - T11 Round 1 - Heat 4 at the Olympic Stadium during day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan. Picture date: Thursday September 2, 2021.

A Paralympic gold-medallist from Newcastleton has criticised the treatment of disabled athletes compared to their able-bodied counterparts.

Runner Libby Clegg, who's broken world records and won numerous medals, says while some Olympians are "paraded and celebrated" on retirement, she has merely had a letter.

UK Athletics, her sport's governing body, said though it is seeking to honour disabled athletes in the same way, but that this has not always been possible during the pandemic.

Libby, who is blind, broke the T11 100m world record, winning gold for Great Britain in Rio 2016.

She told ITV Border: "From what I've seen Paralympic athletes get little to no acknowledgement. Maybe a social media post like I got a letter. And I think for me what was really disappointing."

In a social media post, she commented that one of her Olympic counterparts, Martin Rooney, retired at the same time as her but was celebrated while she got a letter.

She subsequently added: "I think it's just a bit sad really that there still seems to be that segregation and that difference and we're not seen on a level playing field or as equals."

Libby said she did not want to be seen as complaining but that she felt she had to speak out for the situation to change. "I think sometimes our lives can look a little bit shiny and that we don't really face the same challenges as everyday people with disabilities," she said.

Libby said the retirement treatment was "the straw that broke the camel's back" in a long line of issues over the years.

"I'm not just doing this for me I feel like this is fundamentally wrong and I want it to change and I could easily just sit on my sofa after retiring in September last year and just let it go," she said.

"I just really feel strongly that it's just wrong and I am not happy and I just want to say it now and it's not right and we should be treating people as equals whether it is in sport or in the workplace or just in everyday life. You know, people are people."

A spokesperson for UK Athletics said: “We have always sought to recognise our key Olympic and Paralympic stars with presentations at our events upon retirement.

"There are a number of athletes that are due to be recognised in front of athletics fans and we are looking forward to honouring Libby at a future UKA event."

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