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Twenty-nine years after first topping the podium at the Paralympics, Dame Sarah Storey is still at it as she closes in on history.
Storey looks on course to become Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian after winning her 15th gold medal – and 26th overall – by retaining her C5 3000m individual pursuit title in Tokyo.
She did it in style, beating her own world record before getting the better of compatriot Crystal Lane-Wright in the final.
The 43-year-old has two more events to compete in as she tries to overhaul Mike Kenny’s British record of 16 golds.
Storey’s achievements, which began way back as a 14-year-old in 1992 at the Barcelona Games where she claimed two golds, three silvers and a bronze in the pool, are even more remarkable considering she has dominated the world in two sports.
She had won 16 Paralympic medals as a swimmer before an ear infection led to her switching disciplines – and becoming even more successful on the bike.
Back in 2005, Storey was unable to take to the pool due to a persistent ear problem and instead rode a bike to keep fit. In less than a year she broke the world record for the para-cycling three-kilometres individual pursuit and the rest is history.
Storey was born in Eccles, Manchester, in 1977 with a partly formed left hand.
At the age of four she took to the pool and, after watching 15-year-old Sarah Hardcastle win silver and bronze at the the Olympics two years later in Los Angeles, had her eye on glory.
She did not know the Paralympics existed until 1990 but just two years later she was competing – and winning – in the pool.
Two golds, three silvers and a bronze were an incredible return as she became Britain’s youngest Paralympic gold medallist – a record which lasted until Ellie Simmonds won in Beijing 16 years later.
Three more golds followed in Atlanta in 1996, while the Sydney and Athens Games returned five more medals before the ear infection changed the course of her career – and the record books.
Her first international cycling competition was the 2005 European Championships. She won three gold medals. More success followed in the 2007 World Championships.
She returned to the Paralympics for a fifth time in 2008 and promptly added two gold medals to her collection. Her time in the individual pursuit would have seen her finish eighth in the able-bodied event.
Storey regularly rode able-bodied events, winning the individual pursuit titles at the British Cycling Championships in 2008 and 2009 before competing for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, where she finished sixth in the women’s individual pursuit, ahead of Laura Trott.
She had hopes of making the team pursuit squad for the 2012 Olympics. Although she was part of the successful team at the 2011 World Cup event in Cali, Colombia, she missed out on selection for London, with Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Trott going on to win gold.
MAKE SOME NOISE🔥🔥
It's a🥇for the unstoppable @DameSarahStorey and🥈for Crystal Lane-Wright!
— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) August 25, 2021
There was no stopping her at the London Paralympics, though. She won two golds on the road – the time-trial and the road race – and added two more on the track in the individual pursuit and time trial, while husband Barney piloted Neil Fachie to gold in the men’s 1km time-trial.
After London, the Storeys had a baby but Sarah was soon back on the bike. More world titles followed in 2014, while the following year she was 563 metres short of breaking the women’s able-bodied UCI hour record.
Three more golds followed in Rio and, following the birth of her second child three years ago, there were doubts whether she would continue competing.
But she had history in her sights and few will bet against her achieving it.