Paralympic Games: Sarah Storey equals British medal record
A TRIUMPHANT Sarah Storey pedalled her way into the history books yesterday after winning her fourth title of London 2012 to equal the British Paralympic record of 11 career golds, held by Baroness Tanni Grey- Thompson and swimmer David Roberts.
In a blistering display of speed, the 34-year-old emerged victorious from the C4-5 road race at Brands Hatch. The Mancunian’s victory was one of the highlights of day eight of the Games, and was one of six golds and 16 medals won by British competitors.
Her performance in the 64-kilometre race, which saw Storey finish ahead of the men’s C1-3 field which started before her race, also secured the 22nd Paralympic medal of her career.
An emotional Storey said: “To be even on the same page as Tanni, to have won 11 is just a dream come true. I don’t know if it will ever sink in. It’s just amazing. The whole support around the course was amazing – without that support you just can’t ride. I am so pleased to be finished now.
“The records are lovely things to talk about but each race is an achievement in its own, each is hard-fought. Just being able to say that you have won for your country is a great honour.”
Storey’s win means she has now won six cycling golds and five golds in the pool, where she made her Paralympic debut aged just 14 at the Barcelona Games. An ear infection forced her to change sports seven years ago.
Last night in athletics, Jonnie Peacock, the men’s T44 100m British athlete, powered home to take gold, leaving South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius in fourth place.
Wheelchair racer David Weir scooped his third gold of the Games in the 800m.
Meanwhile, in the Aquatics Centre yesterday evening, 15-year-old Josef Craig won gold in the SM7 men’s 400 metres freestyle, with the teenager from Tyne and Wear smashing the world record by nearly three seconds.
There was further British medal success in the SM9 women’s 200 metres individual medley, with Stephanie Millward, 29, from Swansea, and Louise Watkins, 20, from Leigh, winning silver and bronze respectively.
Britain’s sailors also made history after winning the nation’s first ever medals in the event, with Helena Lucas the star of the show as she collected gold in the 2.4mR class.
While Team GB is the most successful nation in Olympic sailing history, their Paralympic counterparts came into London 2012 without a medal since the sport’s introduction 12 years ago.
However, that barren spell was ended when the final race of the series was cancelled due to a lack of wind, and medals were awarded on the standings after the opening ten races.
As a result, Lucas, the only woman in her class, deservedly took gold after a week of domination. The 37-year-old from Redhill in Surrey, who was born with defects in both thumbs, said the win was culmination of years of hard work. She said: “A lot of years have gone into this and finally, finally I have done it. It’s absolutely fantastic.”
She also said her victory had earned her the respect of her male competitors, even if some of it has come begrudgingly, adding: “I am so used to going up against the guys that I forget. I feel like one of the lads sometimes. You can tell they weren’t too happy by the start of the week, but they came to terms with it by the middle, as I was sailing well. They are all very happy for me now.”
Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell also claimed a medal, although bronze was not the colour the four-time world champions had been hoping for in the Skud event. Rickham, 30, from Surrey, said: “We didn’t want to go back to London without something in our pockets because it’s a bit difficult in ParalympicsGB – there’s so many medals that you feel really left out if you turn up and you’re not part of the crowd.”
Birrell, 26, from Manchester, added: “I’m really pleased to be taking a medal home with me. It will be nice to show the friends and family what a Paralympic medal looks like, which we failed to do in China.”
Britain only missed out on the podium in one of the three Paralympic classes after the cancellation of race 11 prevented the Sonar team clawing their way back into medal contention.
John Robertson, Stephen Thomas and Hannah Stodel were third in the standings until they were handed a four-point penalty for a rule infringement, which dropped them down to fifth overall. After a request to re-open the case was rejected overnight, the British team saw a further protest against the international jury fail yesterday, and Norway took bronze.
Back at the Olympic Stadium Beverly Jones, a 37-year-old sprinter turned thrower from Mancot in Wales, won bronze in the F37 discus. The four-time Paralympian, who has cerebral palsy, described herself as “very emotional” in the wake of her first medal win.
Elsewhere, Dan Greaves claimed a silver in the F44 discus with a throw of 59.01m.
And there were bronzes for Paul Blake in the T36 800m, Ben Rushgrove in the T36 200m, Ola Abidogun in the T46 100m and, this morning, Beverley Jones in the F37 discus.
In swimming, Heather Frederksen added a silver medal for her S8 100m freestyle to the gold she won for the 100m backstroke, while susie Rodges broke the European record in the 400m freestyle S7 to win bronze.
Collectively, Britain have surpassed a medals target set by UK Sport in August, which tasked them to win 103 from at least 12 sports.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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