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?
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine