• AFP-JIJI

  • SHARE

An emotional Sarah Storey said she felt "overwhelmed" after becoming Britain's most successful Paralympian on Thursday with her 17th gold medal, 29 years after her first.

Storey won cycling's C4-5 women's road race for her third gold at the Tokyo Games following victories in the individual pursuit at the velodrome last week and in the C4-5 road time trial two days ago.

"I'm a bit overwhelmed, again," she told the U.K.'s Channel 4 TV immediately after the 79.2 kilometer race. "I feel like it is happening to someone else.

"Right now I can't explain or compute anything about the race, but crossing the line first felt so good."

In treacherous cool, wet and foggy conditions at Fuji International Speedway, cycling queen Storey finished in 2 hours, 21 minutes and 51 seconds.

The win moved her ahead of Mike Kenny's 16 swimming golds won from 1976 to 1988.

She was flanked again by fellow Briton Crystal Lane-Wright as the pair completed a third one-two of the Games. Marie Patouillet of France took a bronze behind the duo for the second time in Tokyo.

"It is so good to see Sarah be so successful," said Lane-Wright. "If I've won three silvers in her shadow then I am so happy."

The British pair allowed Germany's Kerstin Brachendorf to break away to a lead of more than a minute.

They then relentlessly chased her down over the final lap of six on the 13-km circuit around the foothills of Mount Fuji, in 18 degrees Celsius weather more akin to a British summer in Storey's home city of Manchester.

"I love riding in the rain," said Storey. "I feel like I've got the technical skills to handle the corners."

Storey's longevity and endurance is remarkable. She began her Paralympic career in the swimming pool as a 14-year-old at Barcelona in 1992, where she won two golds.

'That was mental'

After winning five swimming gold medals from 1992 to 2004, Storey switched to cycling at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Storey, who was born without a functioning left arm, has broken 76 world records and is in the best form of her life, having smashed her own world best in the pursuit.

Gold Medalist Sarah Storey of Britain celebrates on the podium following the women's C4-5 road race | REUTERS
Gold Medalist Sarah Storey of Britain celebrates on the podium following the women’s C4-5 road race | REUTERS

But she choked back tears as she recalled how it all began, with a little help from her parents.

"My mum and dad said to me when I was 12, when I wasn't winning anything in school … they kept saying to me 'focus on you Sarah, just focus on your best,'" Storey said, with her voice cracking.

"And that's what I keep doing."

She became Britain's most successful female Paralympian at the 2012 London Games when she overtook Tanni Grey-Thompson's record of 11 golds.

Storey shed tears again as she sang the national anthem on the top step of the podium for the 17th time in a career that has spanned an astonishing eight Paralympic Games.

It was a golden morning for Great Britain's cycling team as they also took first and second in the men's C1-3 race in atrocious conditions.

Ben Watson won his second gold of these Games in 2:04:23 with Finlay Graham claiming silver 1:20 adrift.

The pair broke away to destroy a world-class field with France's Alexandre Leaute trailing home in third, more than six minutes behind Watson.

"That was mental," Watson said. "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, I knew it was going to be pretty good."

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)