Velodrome victory sets the stage as home team win two golds on day one of Games

Sarah Storey wins eighth Paralympic title while Jonathan Fox makes a splash in the pool

When Sarah Storey took to the track for the final of the C5 individual pursuit final yesterday, Team GB's first gold of the Games was barely in doubt. The 34-year-old cyclist had, after all, obliterated the world record during qualification, finishing 16 seconds faster than second-place Polish cyclist Anna Harkowaska.

Sure enough, Storey took the first of four possible 2012 golds in the most spectacular fashion amid deafening noise in front of a packed crowd on the first day of cycling action at the Velodrome – catching her opponent after only eight laps. "Feels amazing," she said. "I can't quite believe that I've been so lucky to win in my home town with my home crowd. It just has not sunk in yet."

The world record was the 72nd of Storey's remarkable career, achieved in front of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. She might have secured a 73rd in the final, if she had not sealed victory less than two-thirds of the way into the race – a feat that was, she said, helped by her morning's heroics.

"I didn't expect to knock off so much time in my world record this morning, but that gave me great confidence and I was able to stay calm and do what I knew I could do."

It all looked simple, but Storey insisted otherwise. Speaking after an emotional medal ceremony, she said: "Well it looked easy, but believe me, there is so much work that goes into a medal like that. Obviously I was able to win the final a lot quicker than I expected, but the crowd was behind me and with me, so it felt like they carried me through. I'm just so over the moon."

Yesterday's gold was Storey's eighth Paralympic title and her third in cycling – the first five having come in the pool before she switched sports in 2005. She also has eight silver medals and three bronze from a swimming career that began at the age of 14, making her undoubtedly one of the greatest British athletes in history. In 2010 she became the first Paralympic cyclist to compete for Britain against non-disabled athletes at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi – only one of two athletes to ever do so. Storey, who was born with a deformed left hand and is classified as C5 (the least-disabled class in cycling), only narrowly missed out on a place in Olympics 2012 women's team pursuit and came into yesterday's race as both world champion and defending Paralympic champion in the pursuit.

It was thanks to her inspirational example that her teammate Crystal Lane took up competitive cycling and secured a Paralympics debut yesterday that included a personal best and fourth place in the heats. The 26-year-old from Chelmsford, in Essex, who was born with an under-developed left arm and missing fingers on her left hand, was ultimately defeated by New Zealand's Fiona Southorn in the bronze-medal race.

Later there was another gold for Great Britain as Jonathan Fox broke the curse of the Aquatic Centre by winning the S7 100m backstroke.

There were other medals in the Velodrome too. Welshman Mark Colbourne took silver – Team GB's first medal of the Games – in the 1km time trial. His Paralympics' debut left teammate Darren Kenny, who had held the world record going into the race, in a slightly disappointing fourth place.

In a factored race for C1, C2 and C3 athletes, which means that each cyclist's time was altered according to the extent of their disability, Colbourne, as C1, was among the most incapacitated. His remarkable silver comes only three years after he broke his back in a paragliding accident. "It's very exciting," he said. "We have worked for 18 months for this."

Whereas Storey has been a Paralympics regular for 20 years, yesterday was, hopefully for Colbourne, only the beginning – he has to get back on his bike for another race today. "I've got this opportunity to achieve something I could have only dreamed of before," he told The Independent last month.

GB's medallists: Third in the table – and the action's only just begun

Sarah Storey: gold

The 34-year-old former para-swimmer who turned to track cycling after a series of ear infections kept her out of the pool claimed Team GB's first gold in the women's C5 individual pursuit.

Jonathan Fox: gold

The 21-year-old cerebal palsy sufferer began his day in the Aquatics Centre well with an early world record and topped that off with victory in the final of the S7 100m backstroke.

Nyree Kindred: silver

The Welsh swimmer was the fastest qualifier for the final of the women's S6 100m backstroke but was pushed into second in the final by a world record from China's Lu Dong.

Hannah Russell: silver

The 16-year-old who swims with impaired vision beamed after winning her medal women's S12 400m freestyle.

Mark Colbourne: silver

The 41-year-old took GB's first medal of the Games in the men's individual 1km cycling time trial.

Ben Quilter: bronze

The visually impaired double world champion judoka claimed his -60kg medal despite a knee injury.

Zoe Newson: bronze

The 20-year-old powerlifter wiped a tear from her eye at the ExCel after holding aloft 88kg, twice her own bodyweight.

Rob Hastings

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before