Sarah Storey: It's a massive surprise there are three Paralympians nominated for Sports Personality of the Year


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The Independent Online

I was shocked to be nominated for Sports Personality of the Year And it’s a massive surprise that we’ve got two other Paralympians nominated too [swimmer Ellie Simmonds and wheelchair racer David Weir]. Ellie’s career had a similar start  to mine [the 18-year-old Paralympian won two golds at each of the past two Paralympics] but although I had five medals by the time I was 18, I was unheard of. The previous five Paralympic Games I was involved in went under  the radar – this was my sixth. So that difference is an easy way to measure how far we’ve come [with disabled sport].

I didn’t believe I had enough of a disability [Storey was born without a fully formed left hand]. When  I first came into disabled cycling, it  took the whole team of staff a while to convince me that it isn’t just about legs – upper body control is vital, too. I didn’t want people in the Olympic Park saying, “What is she doing at the Paralympics, there’s nothing wrong with her!”

Be honest about your impairment Classification in disabled sport is tricky, and I believe  it’s [disabled] sport’s “drug problem”. Pretending to be more disabled then you are and getting into a class you shouldn’t be in – and winning medals – is wrong. So I’d love to see the classification system become more transparent.

I don’t need a £50 note dangling at the finish line Other athletes need [financial] rewards, and not everyone at the Games was an athlete first, but I’m motivated to do all this because of my love of sport.

This Muhammad Ali quote describes me perfectly: “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them; a desire,  a dream, a vision... they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

Choosing ‘Sex and the City’ for ‘Celebrity Mastermind’ wasn’t my idea [Storey appeared on the show in January, finishing in last place]. The [producers] said, “For your specialist subject we need you to do something in the field of entertainment.” Sex and the City was the only thing I’d seen more than three episodes of – but I did terribly. They probably thought, “She’s a girl, she must watch rubbish telly.”

Never turn down an opportunity I tried every sport possible at school and became a county table-tennis champion and county netball player; I’ve tried cross-country and track and field. I’m a sports anorak.

The secret to longevity is to do what you love Both me and my husband are passionate about cycling – we work on it during the day and talk about it at night. We find that relaxing.

Sarah Storey, 35, is a road cyclist, former swimmer and Great Britain’s most-decorated female Paralympian, having won 11 gold, eight silver and three bronze medals across six Paralympic Games.  For more, visit