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UK Athletics

One Month On...

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Libby Clegg


28th October 2008


Column as featured in Athletics Weekly Magazine


Having been back from the Paralympics for a month now it seemed a bit strange to be returning to London for last week's victory parade. After all, when we went our separate ways from the airport when landing from Beijing, I'd half expected not to see my team mates until next season.


Weeks on from my return, I dug out my tracksuit and found myself arriving at 9am along with a group of Paralympic and Olympic stars at Mansion House - the start of the parade through the streets of London.


It was rather weird to find myself on a float alongside the likes of Tasha Danvers and Phillips Idowu as so many people came out to shout, cheer and wave - I really didn't expect such a great response - and half expected a small group of schoolchildren to be lining the streets!


We had a great time on the float, my paralympic team mates Brian Alldis and Rebecca Chin were also on the float and I had a great time chatting to them - we also had the basketball team on our float, and I enjoyed speaking with those guys as we hadn't had much of a chance to catch up in Beijing.


When we got to the square I didn't realise what was going to happen next and found myself being interviewed on the big screen by Matt Baker. - slightly surreal.


To me it probably seemed quite surreal for a couple of reasons - the first, being one that any athlete can share. As an athlete you work so hard to perform in that one moment whether it is a race, or a series of events. To you it's your life and when you succeed it is very important to you and your family and friends. But events like this show just how important sport is to everyone, and that success is important to the public too. I didn't realise how important our success had been until last week's parade - as you tend to exist within a bubble.


The other reason why the experience seemed surreal centres on what I did the day after the parade. Having stayed in Watford the night after - I travelled to Colchester to pick up my boyfriend Simon - who had just arrived back from six months serving in Afghanistan. We travelled back up to Newcastleton, where on Saturday night we held a party to welcome him back


Having a boyfriend in the forces definitely focuses the mind. And also drives home what is and isn't important in life. For example - the same week I found out I had been selected to the Paralympic team, Simon's best mate was killed.


That for me was the strangest week - to feel so pleased on one hand, and yet so sad on the other. It taught me that life is so short and that at the end of the day, those little frustrations such as injuries are just that - little.


With four years to go until the 2012 London Paralympics, last week will spur me on to go one better and win gold, knowing every step of the way that whilst victory parades are fun, nothing will quite beat the feeling of welcoming Simon back to the UK.