Sarah's struggle to reach Olympic final

OLYMPIC finalist Sarah Claxton faced more than just the hurdles on a track to reach Beijing.

Derek Davis

OLYMPIC finalist Sarah Claxton faced more than just the hurdles on a track to reach Beijing.

The 28-year-old was made homeless just weeks before the in China in what was just another obstacle on the journey from a council estate in Colchester to the Olympic final.

Proud mum Althea Claxton watched from her home in Monkwick as Sarah ran a sub 13 seconds in the 100m hurdles in the Birds' Nest Stadium to finish eighth, which was a triumph in itself.

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Althea said: “It has been such a battle for Sarah just getting to the Games.

“She was made homeless on the Monday before she went to Germany on the Thursday to get the A standard time she needed to qualify.

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“She was sharing a flat in London with her boyfriend when the owners decided they needed it back and kicked them both out.

“When she came back her coach Lloyd managed to find her a room in a house just two doors down from where Dwain Chambers lives.”

Sarah ran a stunning 12.84 and finish fourth to reach the final yesterday when she ended up eighth and her mum could see the determination in her face during the races.

She said: “Being kicked out and being told she had to get the time again made her so mad and she used that anger in Germany to qualify.

“I told her before the final to remember that anger and channel that aggression and she did.”

It was always an uphill battle to fund her training with Sarah having to sell her car and work in Tesco and Sainsbury's to help finance herself after receiving so little of the lottery cash allocated by UK Athletics.

Despite winning a qualifying race in Birmingham and twice running the 'A' standard time in Germany, she was told by selectors she was still not in the team and had to race gain, achieving a personal best 12.81 after single-mum Althea had to dig deep once more.

She said: “I even had to find the £61 for her train ticket from London to Loughborough so she could race and get the time she needed but she did it.”

Althea originates from St Thomas in the British Virgin Islands and lived in Suffolk before moving to Colchester.

Althea said: “I would quite like her to stick her fingers up to UK Athletics and run for another country.

“The Virgin Islands wanted her to run for them but she stayed loyal even though they made it so hard for her to get there.

“I feel they just didn't want to select her but she worked so hard and put up with so much to get there.”

While Sarah was not in the medals this time she is determined to carry on and

“I'm so proud of my Sarah. She is an Olympic finalist and they can never take that way from her.

“Ever since she was nine-years-old she has wanted this and we want to thank all the people who believed in her and supported her along the way. There have been many who didn't but this is a big thank you for those who never stopped believing.”

Claxton now runs for Woodford Green and Essex Ladies but started out at Colchester & Tendring AC and has targeted a European indoors medal next.

Sarah said: “The Olympic final was a brilliant experience. I believe I belong in that company. Now I'm after the British record (of 12.80) I'm sure it is within my reach.”

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