Dame Sarah Storey becomes GB's most successful Paralympian by winning 17th gold

2 September 2021, 06:44

Dame Sarah Storey became Great Britain's outright most successful Paralympian on Thursday
Dame Sarah Storey became Great Britain's outright most successful Paralympian on Thursday. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Dame Sarah Storey became Great Britain's single most successful Paralympian ever after winning the 17th gold of her incredible career at Tokyo 2020.

Cycling star Storey trailed veteran German Kerstin Brachtendorf by 75 seconds at one stage of the C4-5 road race at the rain-soaked Fuji International Speedway but underlined her class to snatch glory in a finishing time of 2:21:51.

Fellow Brit Crystal Lane-Wright picked up her third silver of the Games by crossing the line seven seconds off the pace, with France's Marie Patouillet completing the podium in 2:23:49.

On an extraordinary morning, there was also a British one-two in the men's C1-3 event, with Benjamin Watson taking gold in 2:04:23, a minute and and 20 seconds ahead of compatriot Fin Graham.

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Mother-of-two Storey had matched Mike Kenny's long-standing British record of 16 golds on Tuesday by winning the C5 time trial at this venue.

The 43-year-old was already more decorated than swimmer Kenny going into her third and final event of the Games owing to a greater haul of medals, which ahead of the race stood at 27 to his 18.

She was eager to stand alone at the top of Britain's all-time individual medal table and did so in dramatic fashion thanks to preserving her flawless record in Paralympic cycling with a stunning comeback victory.

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The former swimmer - whose first five golds came in the pool - has now won all 13 bike events entered dating back to her Games debut on two wheels in Beijing in 2008.

Despite that prolonged period of dominance, she warned ahead of the 78km race that victory was far from a formality.

And her prediction proved accurate.

In the foothills of Mount Fuji - Japan's highest peak - Storey was quickly left with a mountain to climb in sodden conditions more suited to her or 77-year-old Kenny's aquatic days.

Long-time leader Brachtendorf made a brave break away from the peloton as early as the end of the second lap of six.

The 49-year-old - the bronze medallist from Tuesday's time trial at the same venue - was one of only two race participants older than Storey.

She maintained a lead of more than minute for much of the race, before Britain's best pushed hard to eventually eradicate a one-time 13km gap at the start of the final lap.

From then on, the winner rarely looked in doubt.

Storey's trip to Japan had already brought golds in the C5 3000m individual pursuit and time trial, and for the third time in the space of nine days she comfortably held off the attentions of compatriot Lane-Wright.

The Manchester rider crossed the line with a jubilant punch of the air, securing another piece of British history on a circuit where racing driver James Hunt won the 1976 Formula One world championship.

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