Sarah Storey did not lead from start to finish en route to claiming her record-equalling 11th Paralympic gold medal. Not quite. It took her two kilometres to make her break in the C5 64km road race, by the second lap she had overtaken the preceding men's race. It was possibly the longest victory parade in history.
It was Storey's fourth gold of the Games, a neat split of two on the track and two on the road. As she crossed the line on a perfect late summer's afternoon in the garden of England she punched the air, her hands decorated with Union flag gloves, to mark her perfect Games. This is a supreme athlete, competing at the peak of her considerable powers. She is now level with Tanni Grey-Thompson, right, and Dave Roberts, a former swimming team-mate, in the number of gold medals won.
The trio are considered Britain's most successful Paralympians but that is accompanied by an asterisk. There is one Briton who has won more Paralympic gold – Mike Kenny with 16 – but his all came before 1989, the year in which the classifications were radically adjusted following the foundation of the International Paralympic Committee. Kenny competed in four Games from 1976 to Seoul in 1988, winning his golds and two silvers in the pool.
But never mind the small print. This is about Storey and her 21 Paralympic medals – there are seven silvers and three bronze to add. "Hopefully, this Games has shown just what athletes we are at the parallel Olympics," said Storey. "I'm just so proud to be part of it for so long. This has been the greatest Games for me. Two golds in Barcelona, three in Atlanta, two in Beijing – I've won four here. I can't get over it."
The 34-year-old is refusing to rule out a return in Rio 2016. "You've seen what I'm capable of and, hopefully, I can keep pushing those boundaries," she said. "It's about, challenging yourself to get quicker."
That is a frightening thought for her opponents. Yesterday she crossed the line nearly seven and half minutes clear. It would have been more if she had not slowed down in the final 200m to savour the moment.
"It was a bit of a celebration coming down the home straight but I think that was allowed," she said. "I love my job. I really do love what I do. I love training really hard – I'm a bit of a sadist, really."Reuse content