Storey wins record-breaking 17th gold

Sarah Storey
Sarah Storey has 17 golds, and 28 Paralympic medals in total
Venue: Tokyo, Japan Dates: 24 August-5 September Time in Tokyo: BST +8
Coverage: Follow on Radio 5 Live and on the BBC Sport website

Sarah Storey won her 17th Paralympic gold to become Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian of all time.

The 43-year-old defended the women’s C4-5 road race title she has held since London 2012 to put her one gold ahead of previous record holder Mike Kenny.

Britain’s Crystal-Lane Wright finished seven seconds behind to take silver.

It was a GB one-two in the men’s C1-3 race too, Ben Watson winning his second gold with Fin Graham claiming silver in atrocious conditions in Tokyo.

“I’m a bit overwhelmed, I feels like it’s happening to someone else,” Storey told Channel 4.

“I can’t really explain or compute anything about the race, but crossing the line first felt so good.”

Storey’s gold was her third of this Paralympics, which is her eighth Games since making her debut at Barcelona 1992 as a swimmer.

She won the individual pursuit on the track before claiming time-trial gold to equal Kenny’s record.

Storey now has 28 Paralympic medals in total and has not won anything except gold since making her cycling Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008.

A table showing the five British athletes with the most Paralympic gold medals: Sarah Storey is top with 17, followed by Mike Kenny on 16, Lee Pearson on 15 and Tanni Grey-Thompson and David Roberts, who both have 11
Sarah Storey and Lee Pearson both added three gold medals to their tallies in Tokyo

Familiar conditions as Storey powers to title

In weather more akin to her home near Manchester, with rain and thick fog making visibility difficult at the start, Storey was in the front pack from the off, alongside Lane-Wright.

The British pair allowed German Kerstin Brachtendorf to make a breakaway towards the end of the second of the six laps, clocking a 25-second lead at the checkpoint.

The 49-year-old extended that lead to more than a minute at the halfway stage of the race, with Storey leading the chasing group with Lane-Wright constantly on her wheel.

As the rain got heavier, they were unable to reel Brachtendorf in, the gap opening up by another 10 seconds after four laps.

But Lane-Wright hit the front of the chasers with a significant injection of pace and her burst made all the difference as the pack quickly caught up with Brachtendorf to leave five riders in contention for the medals at the end of the penultimate lap.

It was at this point that the British duo found another gear, Lane-Wright and Storey breaking away to open up a comfortable lead coming into the finish on the Fuji International Speedway.

Storey punched the air in celebration as she crossed the line in two hours, 21 minutes and 51 seconds.

France’s Marie Patouillet took bronze, almost two minutes after Storey finished, with early pace setter Brachtendorf fifth.

“My mum and dad said to me when I was 12, when I wasn’t winning anything in school – I’d been swimming and couldn’t make national age groups – and they kept saying to me ‘focus on you Sarah, just focus on your best’, and that’s what I keep doing,” Storey added.

Watson wins second title at debut Games

Watson claimed victory in the men’s race, for his second Paralympic title in Tokyo, just moments after Storey and Lane-Wright crossed the line in the women’s.

Five years ago, during the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Watson was working a desk job as a chartered surveyor. He attended a talent ID day, and fast forward to 2021 and he’s a double Paralympic champion, having won the C3 time trial two days previously.

The 32-year-old was up at the front from the start and, alongside Graham and three-time medallist in Tokyo Jaco van Gass, was in the leading group at the halfway stage of the 79.2km race in the shadow of Mount Fuji.

But on the fourth lap Watson made his move, quickly establishing a lead of more than a minute on the rest of the field that he would never relinquish.

On the fifth lap, Graham – silver medallist behind Van Gass in the 3,000m individual pursuit earlier in the Games – broke away from the pack to all but confirm the British one-two, and he crossed the line one minute and 20 seconds behind team-mate Watson.

In a sprint for the finish, France’s Alexandre Leaute took bronze, almost seven minutes after Watson had won, with Van Gass missing out in fifth.

“That was mental,” Watson told Channel 4.

“I complain about the rain but I love racing in this, I adore it.

“When I woke up this morning, I had a smile on my face, it was going to be pretty good.”

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