Storey comes to terms with being an icon as she chases 11th gold


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The Independent Online

This afternoon Sarah Storey will ride out of Brands Hatch and through the wooded Kent countryside, pedal up Gorse Hill, down Scratchers Lane and on towards the prize of an 11th Paralympic gold medal. If, and it is one of sport's less questionable ifs, she secures it Storey will draw level with Tanni Grey-Thompson and Dave Roberts as Britain's most decorated Paralympian.

Yesterday Storey flew around the eight-kilometre course to secure gold in the C5 time trial, winning by an emphatic margin of 94 seconds from Poland's Anna Harkowska. It was her third gold of London 2012 and the 10th of a career that began as a 14-year-old swimmer in Barcelona 20 years ago – where she first met Grey-Thompson and won the first two gold medals.

"Tanni was right there and very supportive," said Storey. "She helped me through that first Games, helped me flourish. I can't believe I've been put on the same page as her. Tanni's a good friend and an incredible athlete. Even being thought of in the same breath is an honour."

Today's determining task comes in the road race, 64km or eight laps of the undulating course to yesterday's two. It will be the first time Storey has ridden the event in the Paralympics and she will be a marked woman, an experience that is far from a novel one. "The girls will all be gunning to beat me," said Storey. "But you get used to being marked."

Day one of road racing was a good one for Britain's cyclists. First on to the podium was Mark Colbourne with a silver in the men's C1 time trial. The Welshman added it to his gold and silver from the Velodrome in what has been a successful Paralympic debut. Handcyclist Karen Darke won silver in the H1-2 time trial and tricyclist David Stone bronze in the T1-2 time trial. Storey, though, is the team's standard bearer. "She's the pure professional through and through," said Colbourne. "Every one of the riders takes inspiration from her. The old saying goes, you're known for the company you keep."

She has five swimming golds, collected from four Games, along with seven silver and three bronze, and five cycling golds, gathered here and in Beijing.

"You can't write history books, they are for other people to write," said Storey. "You can only do your best. I love riding my bike, I love being an athlete. My motivation is to do that for as long as possible, for as long as I am good enough to win medals."