Britain’s Storey closes in on Paralympics history with 15th gold

Sports Tokyo 2020

Sarah Storey took gold in the women
Sarah Storey took gold in the women’s C5 3000m individual pursuit (Charly TRIBALLEAU/AFP)

Tokyo (AFP)

by Daniel HICKS

Sarah Storey on Wednesday moved a step closer to becoming Britain’s greatest Paralympian, shattering her own world record in the heats before powering to victory in the C5 3,000 metres individual pursuit final at the Izu Velodrome.

The 43-year-old took gold in the cycling event for a fourth consecutive Games, remarkably catching compatriot Crystal Lane-Wright inside eight of the 12 laps in a repeat of the gold-medal race at Rio five years ago.

France’s Marie Patouillet won the bronze medal.

It put Storey on top of the podium for the 15th time in a career that has spanned an astonishing eight Paralympic Games.

She is just one medal behind the British record held by Mike Kenny, who won 16 swimming golds from 1976 to 1988.

Storey began as a 14-year-old in the pool at Barcelona 1992, where she won two golds. Twenty-nine years later, her latest title looked a formality as she obliterated her own world record in the morning heats.

She clocked 3min 27.057sec to slash more than four seconds off the mark she set at Rio 2016.

“I broke the world record in Beijing, London and Rio. So for me it’s been quite overwhelming to try and keep backing that up, pushing on the pedals and going faster and faster,” said Storey.

“I never expected to go as quickly this morning, but I’m so glad I did.”

After five swimming golds, Storey switched to cycling at Beijing in 2008, and will next week have the chance to surpass Kenny when she bids to retain her C5 time trial and C4-5 road race golds.

Storey, who was born without a functioning left arm, has broken 76 world records and shows no sign of slowing down.

No family tickets

Like most athletes at the Paralympics, Storey is in Japan without her family because of Covid rules, and she felt their absence when reflecting on her win.

“Being in an empty stadium, we are prepared to race like that, but once you’ve finished racing that’s when it hits you,” said Storey, referring to the absence of husband Barney, eight-year-old daughter Louisa and three-year-old son Charlie.

“Racing in a pandemic is hard but it’s when you want to celebrate with people that you realise you can’t have your friends and family here.

“We can celebrate with the team, which is amazing, but there’s a bigger team behind the team and now more than ever they’re missed.”

Storey became Britain’s most successful Paralympian woman at London 2012 when she overtook Tanni Grey-Thompson’s 11-gold record.

And she is determined to carry on until the 2024 Games in Paris, when she will be 46.

“Charlie really wants to go to the Games, so I’ve got to make sure that he can,” Storey said.

“Being in Paris is a huge motivator just from a family perspective, as well as trying to keep continuing to push myself to be the best that I can be.”

© 2021 AFP

Paralympics Tokyo 2020 AFP