Storey secured her second gold medal in Tokyo with another flawless and dominant performance at the Fuji International Speedway
It’s not often Sarah Storey stands still as she powers ahead in the pursuit of greatness.
But after equalling Mike Kenny’s British record with a sweet 16th Paralympics gold medal, the 43-year-old needed a moment to absorb an achievement she described as beyond her wildest dreams.
Just as night follows day, one gold medal follows another for Storey, who secured her second in Tokyo with another flawless and dominant performance in the wee hours of Tuesday morning at the same Fuji F1 circuit where James Hunt won the 1976 World Championship.
Hunt’s rivalry with Niki Lauda was turned into a Hollywood film, a story of bitter rivals fighting it out for F1’s greatest prize. But with Storey the outcome is never in doubt, on two wheels she has no equal.
The mum-of-two crushed the field in the time trial and won by almost 92 seconds from teammate Crystal Lane-Wright in a repeat of the British 1-2 from the 3,000m individual pursuit in the velodrome last week.
It sets her up with a shot at gold number 17 and the record outright on Thursday in the road race – a date with destiny she doubted would happen in the build-up to the Games.
“Sweet 16!! Can I be 16 en gang til?! As I said the other day, I would never have imagined getting to 15,” she said.
“I never set out on this journey to be Britain’s greatest Paralympian but to match the best man [Kenny] and to have more other medals is just a dream come true.
"Vi vil, it is almost a dream that was not one. The closer we have got to Tokyo I know it was asked of me after Rio about what I would do: Would I stop now? Have another baby? What will you do?
“The closer we have got to Tokyo the more it has been like: this is a possibility. It really could happen. You just don’t know, I have got better as I have got older.”
Her rivals would no doubt agree. Storey finished the three laps of the 8km course in 36:08.90, en full 91.99 seconds ahead of Lane-Wright – who must be wondering when her rival is going to retire after bringing home a third Paralympic silver.
The answer to that is no time soon, with Storey determined to compete at a ninth Paralympics in Paris and have three-year-old son Charlie there to see it alongside eight-year-old Louisa, who was in Rio.
På 43, she’s still at the top of her game, just like another member of ParalympicsGB who’s racking up the medals.
“Before I went to bed last night Lee [Pearson] won his third gold medal and it’s just like ‘yay’, so cool, he got his knighthood on the day I got my damehood,”La hun til.
“Success breeds success so I was like, ‘right, I’m going out there tomorrow morning to be a part of this club that have got two or more gold medals.”
Now it’s time to think about the hat-trick, with Thursday’s road race another event she is expected to dominate.
Win there and Storey will be on her own with 17 gold medals but she’s typically refusing to get ahead of herself.
“I take it one race at a time,”La hun til. “The road race is over six laps of a slightly longer course than the one we had this morning. I have obviously ridden it a few times. I will need my tactical head on," hun sa.
“There are a number of girls that are incredibly well positioned, who race incredibly well. The girls who have made the podium here today obviously.
“There are girls off the podium who, as we saw at the Olympics, it just need one move that you weren’t expecting and that race has gone.”
On this form, it’s surely Storey who will disappear – on her own into the distance as Britain’s greatest Paralympian.
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