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Sarah Storey wins 17th gold and becomes Britain’s most successful Paralympist

Venue: Tokyo, Japan Events: August 24-September 5 Time in Tokyo: BST +8
Cover: Follow on Radio 5 Live and on the BBC Sports website

Sarah Storey won her 17th Paralympic Gold, making it Britain’s most successful Paralympist of all time.

The 43-year-old defended the women’s C4-5 road racing title, which she has held since London 2012, and is one gold ahead of previous record holder Mike Kenny.

British rider Crystal Lane-Wright took silver, seven seconds behind.

It was also a GB double victory in the men’s C1-3 race, Ben Watson wins his second gold with Fin Graham, who took silver in Tokyo under terrible conditions.

“I’m a little overwhelmed, I feel like it’s happening to someone else,” Storey told Channel 4.

“I can’t really explain or calculate the race, but crossing the finish line for the first time felt so good.”

Storeys Gold was her third at the Paralympics, her eighth game since her debut in Barcelona in 1992 as a 14-year-old swimmer.

She won the individual on-track pursuit before taking time trial gold to hit Kenny’s record.

Storey now has a total of 28 Paralympic medals and has not won anything but gold since her Paralympic debut in Beijing in 2008.

Sarah Storey and Lee Pearson added three gold medals to their Tokyo record

Familiar terms as Storey holds the title

In weather more like her home near Manchester, with rain and thick fog making visibility difficult at the start, Storey was in the lead alongside Lane-Wright from the start.

The British let the German Kerstin Brachtendorf break out towards the end of the second of the six laps and the 49-year-old drove out at the checkpoint with a 25-second lead.

She extended that lead to over a minute at halftime, with Storey leading the chase and Lane-Wright constantly at the wheel.

When the rain got stronger and stronger, they could not catch up with Brachtendorf, the gap widened by another 10 seconds after four laps.

But Lane-Wright hit the pursuers with a substantial injection of speed and her thrust made all the difference as the field quickly caught up with Brachtendorf and five riders battled for medals at the end of the penultimate lap.

At this point, the British duo found another gear, Lane-Wright and Storey breaking up to get a comfortable lead at the finish on the Fuji International Speedway course.

Storey pounded cheerfully as she crossed the finish line in two hours, 21 minutes and 51 seconds.

The French Marie Patouillet took bronze almost two minutes after Storey had crossed the finish line, ahead of the early pacemaker Brachtendorf in fifth.

“I don’t know if it’s submerged. It’s something everyone has been talking about since Rio when it became a math possibility when I was doing three other events in Tokyo,” Storey told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Paralympic Breakfast.

“But you can’t take anything for granted and although I knew that I had the ability to reduce the gap to Kerstin when my legs don’t feel as good as in the time trial and then in the individual pursuit, then” you think Today is not my day.

“It’s one of those situations where I don’t know if it will come when I get home, if it will be in a few months or never at all.

“I’m just incredibly proud and also infinitely grateful to have so much support and such a great team around me and a great team at home too. It is you who make it happen by attracting me to the starting line to be able to try, so in many ways I am at a loss for words. “

‘Sometimes I think,’ What would Sarah do? ”

Lane-Wright’s silver was her third in Tokyo after finishing second behind Storey in all three races.

The 35-year-old, who has won a total of five Paralympic medals, hinted that these would be her final games and was well aware of the historic nature of the race.

“I said ‘this is your gold medal’. Don’t worry, I won’t even try to take it away from you,” said Lane-Wright.

“That’s part of the story now. And I didn’t have the legs, she walked so hard. It’s easy for me to say now that I gave it to her, but she won fair and fair.

“It’s not just gold medals that make it, you have to see her as a professional too. And even if she had won silver today, she’s still one of the greatest athletes we will ever have.

“I piggybacked that because I’m in the same category and now on the same podium. Sometimes I think, ‘What would Sarah do?’. She inspires me so much.”

Watson wins second title in first games

Watson took the men’s victory and won his second Paralympic title in Tokyo moments after Storey and Lane-Wright crossed the women’s finish line.

Five years ago, during the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, Watson had a desk job as a Chartered Surveyor. He attended a Talent ID Day and fast forwarded to 2021. He is a two-time Paralympic Champion after winning the C3 time trial two days earlier.

The 32-year-old was right in front from the start and was next to Graham and the three-time medalist in Tokyo Jaco van Gass in the middle of the 79.2 kilometer race in the shadow of Mount Fuji in the top group.

But on the fourth lap, Watson made his move and quickly built a lead of more than a minute over the rest of the field that he would never give up.

On the fifth lap, Graham – silver medalist behind Van Gass in the 3,000m individual pursuit at the start of the Games – pulled away from the field to virtually confirm the British one-two and crossed the finish line a minute and 20 seconds behind the team – Buddy Watson.

In the final sprint, Frenchman Alexandre Leaute took bronze just seven minutes after Watson’s victory, while Van Gass was missing in fifth.

“That was mental,” Watson told Channel 4.

“I complain about the rain but I love racing here, I love it.

“When I woke up this morning I had a smile on my face, it was going to be pretty good.”

Storey’s career in pictures

Sarah Bailey - as she was then - pictured with members of the British squad at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics.  At 18, she won three gold medals in swimmingSarah Bailey – as she was then – pictured with members of the British squad at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta, where she won three gold medals in swimming at the age of 18Sarah Storey stares at the clock after breaking her own 200m back record by over six seconds in 1993She stares at the clock after breaking her own 200m back record by more than six seconds in October 1993, shortly after her 16th birthdaySarah Storey with a silver medal at the Athens Paralympics in 2004Sarah Storey won two silver and bronze medals in swimming at the 2004 Athens ParalympicsSarah Storey celebrates on the podium of the velodrome at the Beijing 2008 ParalympicsBeijing 2008 was Sarah Storey’s first Paralympic cycling event – she won gold twiceSarah Storey celebrates winning the 2012 London Road RaceSarah Storey won her first Paralympic road race title in London in 2012Sarah Storey displays her gold medals in the 2012 London paradeSarah Storey won four gold medals at the 2012 London GamesSarah Storey and her daughter Louisa hold her gold medal at the 2016 Rio ParalympicsRio 2016 was Sarah Storey’s first Paralympic Games as a mother. She and her husband Barney welcomed daughter Louisa in 2013, while son Charlie arrived in 2017Sarah Storey celebrates after crossing the lineSarah Storey is taking part in her eighth Paralympic GamesAll about the BBC iPlayer bannerAround the BBC iPlayer footer

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