Cycling: Sarah Storey wins 11th Paralympics gold medal of London 2012

 

An imperious performance saw Sarah Storey claim her fourth gold medal of London 2012 and her 11th Paralympic title in all at Brands Hatch today.

Storey soloed to victory in the women's 64-kilometre C4-5 road race by more than seven minutes to join Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as Britain's most successful female Paralympian.

She received the congratulations of former wheelchair racer Grey-Thompson, who is working for BBC Radio 5 Live, almost immediately after the race.

"It's a dream come true," Storey said.

"To equal Tanni's a huge honour. Her career was absolutely immense.

"She's an absolutely incredible girl and I can't wait to give her a big hug."

The 34-year-old from Manchester, who won her first title as a 14-year-old swimmer in Barcelona in 1992 and her 10th in the time-trial yesterday, attacked from the start of the eight-lap event and finished in one hour 40 minutes, ahead of the men's C1-3 field which started in front of her.

In taking her Paralympic gold medal total to 11 - and 22 medals in all - Storey equalled Grey-Thompson and swimmer David Roberts' haul.

Mike Kenny won 16 gold medals as a swimmer from 1976 to 1988, with some of his successes coming in a 25-metre pool.

"It hurt a lot but it was amazing," added Storey, who was able to savour her success by free-wheeling across the line.

"The Americans went off to send everyone up the road one at a time.

"I decided to test some legs. I had a bit of gas to spare, so I dug in - 62km on my own.

"I just had to control the pace and not get too excited, make sure I ate and drank enough.

"You can still blow up, even if you've got (a lead of) five minutes. You've got to make sure you do everything right to the line."

Storey, who was born with a partly formed left hand, believes she is in the form of her life, in her sixth Games.

"I've tried my hardest to make sure everything was perfect," she added.

"I left no stone unturned when it came to everything from nutrition to training and racing. There's a huge list of people I need to thank - I'm so grateful."

Storey was in contention for a place in the Olympic team pursuit squad until last December and it is feasible she could double up at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, aged 38, as she continues her stellar career.

Poland's Anna Harkowska was seven minutes 22 seconds behind and Kelly Crowley of the United States was further adrift in third.

Harkowska was second in the time-trial, with Crowley third as the top three remained the same in the road race.

Storey was 41secs clear of the field at the end of the first circuit and caught up with the men's C1-3 race, featuring Shaun McKeown and Mark Colbourne, before roaring past.

At half distance, after 32km, Storey was 4:51 ahead of her three nearest rivals, with Lane in fifth, 23secs further adrift.

With three laps to go, Storey led by 5:28 and she continued to extend her advantage in a thrilling show of supremacy.

She was able to free-wheel over the line, acknowledging the crowd's cheers, before crossing the line.

She embraced husband Barney and wrapped herself in a Union Flag.

Storey's team-mate Crystal Lane finished 14:14 behind in sixth place.

McKeown was 21st and Colbourne 24th in the men's C1-3 race, won by Italy's Roberto Bargna in a sprint finish.

Germany's Steffen Warias was second, with David Nicholas of Australia third.

PA

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