ame old Storey, just a different script.
Gone was the usual dominance of many of the past 16 Paralympic golds but the result was just the same.
In winning the C4-5 road race today, Sarah Storey eclipsed former swimmer Mike Kenny as Britain’s most successful Paralympian with a 17th gold in conditions more akin to the Cheshire weather they are both accustomed to.
As the rain lashed down in Tokyo, the 43-year-old in her eighth Paralympics looked like she might have misjudged it as Kerstin Brachtendorf pulled 75 seconds clear with just two of the six laps remaining.
But with fellow Briton Crystal Lane-Wright, she reeled in the German and appeared from the gloom to break clear to win by five seconds in a British one-two.
Her 17 golds, which have spanned eight Games and two sports — she had previously swum for Britain — would put her seventh currently in the medal table in Tokyo
“I couldn’t have imagined going to eight Games, let alone winning medals at every Games and 17 of those being gold,” she said barely having dried out after nearly two-and-a-half hours of racing. “It’s the dream I didn’t have coming true. I just wanted to be a British athlete, I wanted to compete for my country as long as I possibly could. And to still be going strong in Games No8 is truly amazing.”
It was aged 14 that Storey had first worn a Paralympic gold, now 43 the novelty has not worn off, to the extent she already has her sights set on the Paris Games in three years’ time in part to allow her son Charlie, who will then be six, the chance to watch her compete in the flesh at a Games.
At the Paralympic village in Tokyo, Storey has knitted dolls of her family, husband Barney, daughter Louisa and her son, at the end of her bed as a reminder. The aim was to have her family close, the three of them in her thoughts as a third Tokyo gold looked in danger of slipping away.
The road race was in contrast to her previous two finals in Japan. She had dominated both the individual pursuit on the track and the time trial at Fuji International Speedway. But returning to the same venue, she had predicted that “anything can happen” in the road race.
But just as a golden farewell looked unlikely, her and Lane-Wright worked together to reel in Brachtendorf by which point Lane-Wright conceded defeat in the battle for gold.
“This is your gold medal,” she told Storey. “You don’t have to worry, I won’t take it. I won’t even attempt to take it away from you. I wasn’t quick enough.”
So overwhelmed was Storey across the line, she said it was as though the experience was happening to someone else. But she repeated the mantra that her parents had told her as a 12-year-old swimmer in the final throes of the race.
“They just kept saying to me, ‘Focus on you Sarah, just focus on your best’ and that’s what I keep on doing,” she said.
While the expectation for each of her races was for gold, she had managed to shun that. With a third gold around her neck, she was adamant she had never felt any pressure.
As for the celebration? A flight home to sew name labels on her children’s uniforms before their return to school.
There was another British cycling one-two in the men’s C1-3 as Ben Watson took the gold ahead of teammate Fin Graham in equally atrocious conditions.
Meanwhile, in the pool Bethany Firth edged the golden tally for Paralympic GB to 33 by winning the S14 100metre backstroke title.
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