On the first day of the Paralympics Games Dame Sarah Storey smashed records to become most successful female UK Paralympian ever. The 38-year-old para-cyclist now has an astounding 23 Paralympic medals following her gold win on the first day in Rio.
Today across Britain, Sarah Storey is being celebrated as one of the best that athletes that Britain has ever produced – male or female, Olympian or Paralympian.
Following her incredible success at London where she won four cycling golds –two on the track and two on the road – Storey scored thousands of fans worldwide. Her relentless determination and spirt made her a global icon, proving that there are no limitations to dreams and talent.
But her four gold medals in one Games only tells part of her story. In 1977 Storey was born without a functioning left hand after her arm became entangled in the umbilical cord in the womb.
At just 14 she qualified for her first Paralympics as a swimmer, winning two golds, three silvers and a bronze in Barcelona in 1992. She continued to smash records in the next three Paralympic Games: in Atlanta 1996 she won another five medals, Sydney 2000, bought her two silvers, and in Athens 2004, she claimed two silvers and a bronze.
But despite her winning streak she was forced out the water by a series of nasty ear infections. Instead of returning home to her 12 medals, Storey decided to continue to push herself further. She switched from swimming to cycling in 2005, and quickly began collecting even more medals.
Incredibly, Storey won two cycling golds at Beijing 2008, with a further four at London 2012. Her achievements in London lead to a damehood in the 2013 New Year Honours.
Away from the Paralympic podium, the Manchester-born star has even more achievements under her belt. Storey has been a 27-time World champion (5 in swimming and 22 in cycling), a 21-time European champion (18 in swimming and 3 in cycling) and currently holds 72 world records. She has also competed alongside able-bodied athletes in national and international competitions, and represented England in the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
In 2007 she married tandem pilot and coach Barney Storey. The couple married in 2013 and now live together in Cheshire with their three-year-old daughter, Louisa.
But despite topping Tanni Grey-Thompson’s gold medal haul of 11 medals, Storey isn’t ready to stop there. Storey says her goal now is to to replicate her quadruple-gold medal winning haul from London 2012 . “I’m delighted to make the mark of 12 golds but this is just the first stage completed,” said Storey.
What do you think, can Sarah Storey win even more gold medals? And will you be cheering her on? Let is know on Twitter!