Local Paralympic trio London-bound

THE archery instructor who witnessed first-hand the transformation of a retired factory supervisor into a Paralympian has spoken of Kate Murray’s sheer dedication to reach the heights of world-class competition.

Gwyn Jones, an instructor at Eastcote Archery Centre, was presented with a £6 voucher by Kate to redeem a taster lesson in archery ten years ago.

Since then, the Bonchester Bridge woman, who is paralysed on the right of her body, has progressed rapidly in the sport and was selected for the Beijing Paralympics four years ago. She will turn 64 when the archery events begin at London 2012’s Paralympics next week, and, says Gwyn, it’s all down to pure graft and determination.

“I think to get to a high level, it’s usually the younger ones who have the energy and time to put in the required work,” he says. “But, Kate puts in a lot of work to carry on her standard and keep improving. There’s no barrier like in football when, if you’re over 30, you’re past it.”

Kate moved into the Olympic village on Wednesday morning having met up with Team GB in Bath earlier this week. She will compete in her first event next Thursday – her 64th birthday.

Her journey to a “home” Paralympics began a decade ago alongside coach Gwyn, a former member of the Great Britain Paralympic archery squad himself. After retiring from her job as a supervisor at Mainetti’s in Jedburgh, Kate was given the gift of the archery ‘taster’ and subsequently signed up for a six-week beginners’ course before going on to enter competitions, initially in Midlothian and Northumberland, and latterly in Europe and the United States.

She now attends elite training once a month at the national centre at Lillieshall in England, but still shoots at Eastcote once or twice a week. “Once they get taken over by the governing body, you see less of them,” says Gwyn. “But, you’re always looking out for them, and I’m quite proud of her.”

The brother-and-sister pair of James and Libby Clegg, swimmer and sprinter respectively, will fly the flag for their native Newcastleton at the Paralympics, which begin next Wednesday.

James, 18, has recorded some impressive results in able-bodied swimming competitions throughout Scotland and will make his Paralympic debut.

Libby, who suffers from peripheral vision in one eye and is registered blind, won silver in the 100m at the Beijing Paralympics and two months ago became world champion in the 100m and 200m.