The first gold medal for Team GB from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics was won by none other than hybrid athlete and unstoppable cyclist Dame Sarah Storey.
Sarah Storey has become the first Team GB athlete to win a gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. She successfully took on the C5 3,000m individual pursuit, beating her teammate Crystal Lane-Wright and beating her own world record by over four seconds.
Her win means that she’s won medals at every one of the eight Paralympics she’s attended, including 15 gold medals, and broken a huge 76 world records.
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With that in mind, who’s really shocked that she made headlines on the first day? No one other than herself, it seems. “It’s quite overwhelming,” Storey told the BBC after her win. “I don’t know if it will sink in until I get home. I came here with a really solid plan of what I wanted to do and I’ve delivered it, so it kind of blows your mind a bit. Everyone’s been reminding me how much work I’ve done and how I deserve to be that fast, but you don’t like to presume. So it took me by surprise, but a good surprise.”
Before her race, Storey also told the Today programme on Radio 4 that competing “feels like you’re constantly trying to prove someone wrong”, having had a swimming teacher tell her she came into sport too late when she started at 10 years old (yes, really). Just four years later, Storey was at the Paralympics, swimming at every Games from 1992-2004 before moving to cycling due to an ear infection.
She went on to win on the bike at Beijing, London and Rio, and her first gold at Tokyo means she’s close to catching up with the 16-medal record of swimmer Mike Kenny, Britain’s most-decorated Paralympian. There’s still time for that to happen this year: Storey is scheduled to race two more times over the course of Tokyo’s Games, and expectations for her success are unsurprisingly high.
Whether or not she wins, Storey is a national treasure. She’s one of those people who seems to never quite slow down, despite age, pandemics or injury. We might not be able to relate to that success, but she’s totally inspiring to watch.
Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).