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British record-breaker Dame Sarah Storey joked of being a “spring chicken” after clinching a remarkable 17th Paralympic gold medal and is already making plans for Paris 2024.
At the age of 43, the cycling star wrote her name into the history books by becoming her country’s most-successful Paralympian with a stunning C4-5 road race victory in the rain-soaked foothills of Mount Fuji.
She departs Tokyo 2020 with three golds from as many events and with her 100 per cent Games record on the bike – now spanning 12 races stretching back to Beijing 2008 – still intact.
— ParalympicsGB (@ParalympicsGB) September 2, 2021
The mother-of-two previously said surpassing the long-standing 16-gold record of GB swimmer Mike Kenny would not mark the end point of her distinguished career.
And, having been inspired by a pair of sexagenarians the day before her headline-grabbing feat, she insists there is no thought of retirement ahead of returning home to discuss future targets with husband Barney, children Louisa and Charlie, and her parents.
“Absolutely we’ve talked about Paris,” said Storey, who won the first two of her five golds as a swimmer at Barcelona in 1992.
“I’d love to have a big bike ride from London to Paris, towing my bags behind me or something.
“Next year, the Commonwealth Games will be in Birmingham – I don’t know if there will be an event for me – but we have Glasgow in 2023 which is a combined championships, track and road.
“And then there’s a year to Paris…
“Yesterday was so inspiring because I saw a swimmer I used to swim with, Sebastian Rodriguez, was 64 in the pool last night against (27-time Paralympic medallist) Daniel Dias.
“Obviously Heinz Frei was racing yesterday in the handbikes at 63 as well – so I’m a spring chicken.”
HUGE thanks to everyone who’s sent messages, I’m reading them all & so grateful so many were able to set their alarm!! Excited to get home now, massive thanks to @ParalympicsGB & @BritishCycling for understanding I had to get back to Louisa & Charlie as quick as possible 🙏🏻
— Dame Sarah Storey (@DameSarahStorey) September 2, 2021
Storey trailed veteran German Kerstin Brachtendorf by 75 seconds at one stage of Thursday’s race at Fuji International Speedway before battling back to snatch glory in a time of two hours, 21 minutes and 51 seconds.
Fellow Briton Crystal Lane-Wright once again took silver, having also finished second to Storey in the C5 3000m individual pursuit and time trial.
After overhauling 49-year-old Brachtendorf, the British duo were pictured in conversation on television screens during the final lap.
Asked about the brief exchange, Storey, who is due to fly home on Friday, replied: “Crystal was saying: ‘Get me up the climb, I need to get the silver medal’.
“And then I just (went) full gas into the finish.
“We didn’t have a conversation about how the race would go before but once we’re in that race-winning mood, she was able to tell me that she just needed to get up the climb, and that I was just going to take it on to the finish.”
Lane-Wright admitted she did not have the leg power to overtake Storey, while revealing she also felt a moral obligation not to pass her compatriot due to her greater contribution in extinguishing the sizeable gap to Brachtendorf.
“I’d already said to her, this is her race to win. She’d pulled it all the way back as well,” said the 35-year-old from Essex.
“There is an element of I’m not going to sit on her wheel while she pulls the German back and then going to sprint at the end.”
Asked to explain the decision, she replied: “Because I have some morals. That’s just not the done thing.
“If I’d done all the work on the front then it’s different but I’ve done no work. I also had no legs.
“If I’d have sat at the front to get Kerstin back I wouldn’t have had the legs to sprint at the end. So yeah I got the medal I probably deserved today.”