History-making Paralympian Sarah Storey looks to future as she considers Paris

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Great Britain’s Dame Sarah Storey celebrates winning the gold medal in the women’s C4-5 road race at the Fuji International Speedway during day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)
Great Britain’s Dame Sarah Storey celebrates winning the gold medal in the women’s C4-5 road race at the Fuji International Speedway during day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)

Dame Sarah Storey has said she is “overwhelmed” at becoming Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian as she revealed she is considering a family bike ride to Paris 2024.

The former swimmer-turned-cycling star – whose first five golds came in the pool, beginning at Barcelona in 1992 – won the 17th gold medal of her career at Tokyo 2020 on Thursday.

Dame Sarah told BBC Breakfast the enormity of her success has not sunk in yet, saying: “It still feels a bit like an out-of-body experience.

“I’ve worked for this for such a long time but I’ve worked for each race independently. It’s very strange. I’m hoping over the course of the next few hours and the next day, it starts to sink in. It’s incredibly overwhelming.”

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Dame Sarah added that she wants her son Charlie, three, and daughter Louisa eight, to be able to experience the Paralympics again.

She said: “One of the things I really would love is for Charlie to experience the Games like Louisa did in Rio.

“I really hope we can go there as a family and it would be amazing to do a cycle ride to get to Paris. Paris sounds like a really good idea but we’ll see. I’m not hanging up my racing boots yet.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson later sent his congratulations to Dame Sarah.

The historic performance has left her family amazed as her husband watched the race live on his phone in bed.

Barney Storey MBE, who himself has won three gold medals in Paralympic cycling, said he was nervous watching the race but never doubted his wife’s ability to win.

He told Good Morning Britain: “I watched it in bed on my phone while Charlie, our youngest, was curled up to me so I was trying not to get too animated.

“It’s not the most enjoyable experience ever and it’s more that it’s everything you can’t control. Absolutely no doubt in Sarah’s ability.”

Dame Sarah Storey celebrates winning the gold medal in the women’s C4-5 road race at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)
Dame Sarah Storey celebrates winning the gold medal in the women’s C4-5 road race at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Storey also said he is proud of his wife’s achievements.

He told BBC Breakfast: “It’s very difficult to put into words how to describe her drive and dedication which allows her to keep competing and winning and getting better.

“I’m just about the same age and I’ve no wish to be that out of breath ever again and she’s just amazing, how she manages to find new ways being in different environment changes and high altitudes to push her body even more.

“There are very few people in the world who are able to do that.”

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it was a race that didn’t kind of pan out as you would have expected, but ultimately the thing with amazing grand champions, they find different ways to win all the time and that’s exactly what she did today.”

Their daughter Louisa was unable to catch the momentous event live, but told Good Morning Britain that she was “amazed” at the “little clips of it” which she saw.

The eight-year-old added that she wants to grow up to become a swimmer just like her mother was.

The rain pours down during the race (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)
The rain pours down during the race (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)

When asked how she will greet her, Louisa told BBC Breakfast: “As soon as we spot her in the airport, (we are going to) run into her arms and then we’re going to decide who’s going to sit with mum in the back all the way home.”

The event also brought her coach to tears as he watched her make history as Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian.

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Coach Gary Brickley said the C4-5 road race was a “tough watch” but a “beautiful watch”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “We’re always confident in Sarah and what Sarah does is wins and wins races well.”

Mr Brickley added: “It was a beautiful watch, yeah, it brought tears to my eyes, even for me.”

The coach said he has been in contact with Dame Sarah via text message to tell her “what a legend she is” and how excited he is for her.

He said he has been working with her since 2004, adding: “But to go back 30 years and go to every single Games, and every world championships, and still keep knocking out the wins and loving it and loving the training, it’s incredible.

Dame Sarah Storey said she is not hanging up her racing boots yet (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)
Dame Sarah Storey said she is not hanging up her racing boots yet (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)

“You know it’s not far off Michael Phelps’ number of gold medals now so we have to keep pushing on.”

Dame Sarah has now won all 13 bike events entered dating back to her Games debut on two wheels in Beijing in 2008.

The mother of two had matched Mike Kenny’s long-standing British record of 16 golds on Tuesday by winning the C5 time trial.

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.

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