Dame Sarah Storey powered into the record books by becoming Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian after winning the 17th gold of her career at Tokyo 2020.
The cycling star claimed glory in the C4-5 road race at the rain-soaked Fuji International Speedway, beating veteran German Kerstin Brachtendorf to the line in a finishing time of 2:21:51.
Fellow Team GB rider Crystal Lane-Wright won her third silver of the Games, crossing the line seven seconds off the pace, while France’s Marie Patouillet took the bronze.
Storey, 43, had already matched Mike Kenny’s long-standing British record of 16 gold medals on Tuesday (31 August), when she one the C5 time trial.
However, the mother-of-two did already have more medals to her name than the British swimmer ahead of her final event of the Games, with 27 medals to his 18.
The former swimmer claimed her first five golds in the pool, beginning at Barcelona in 1992, before swapping the water for two wheels and claiming her first cycling gold in Beijing in 2008.
Now with 17 golds to her name, she is the most successful Paralympian Great Britain has ever seen.
Speaking about her win, she said: “I couldn’t have imagined having eight Games, let alone winning medals at every Games, and 17 of those medals being gold.
“It’s the dream I didn’t have coming true.
“I just wanted to be a British athlete, I wanted to compete for my country for as long as I possibly could, and to still be going strong in Games number eight is truly amazing.
“I never felt a weight on my shoulders. It is the sweetest feeling to know that I go back to my room and there’s a couple of gold medals in the safe to put this one with and that makes that tally very real then.”
‘I just went for it’
Ahead of the 78km race, Storey warned that winning was far from a formality.
In the foothills of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak, Storey left with a mountain to climb in sodden conditions after long-time leader Brachtendorf made a break away from the peloton at the end of the second lap of six.
Brachtendorf maintained a lead of more than a minute for much of the race, before Storey bridged the one-time 13km gap at the start of the final lap.
During the Tokyo Games Storey had already won gold in the C5 3000m individual pursuit and time trial, and for the third time in the space of nine days she comfortably held off her teammate Lane-Wright.
The Manchester rider crossed the line with a jubilant punch of the air, securing another piece of British history on a circuit where racing driver James Hunt won the 1976 Formula One world championship.
Early pace-setter Brachtendorf eventually finished fifth, with Storey admitting it was vital she and Lane-Wright did not rush to claw back the deficit.
She explained: “We knew we had to time it right because if you go too hard too early, you’re burning all your matches.
“I didn’t expect any help, you know, I’m defending champion and everybody wants me to take them to the line, as it were, so I knew it was my race to judge.
“Crystal came through on the penultimate climb to make sure we closed that gap, and then it was just down to me to try to get us the gap in the finish, so that last descent, I didn’t touch my breaks. I just went for it.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, NationalWorld.