Tokyo Paralympics start date ‘won’t feel any different’ for Dame Sarah Storey

On the day when the Paralympic Games should have been getting under way in Tokyo, Dame Sarah Storey plans to be riding her bike to a campsite in Derbyshire.

The 14-time Paralympic gold medal winner will not mark either the day the competition was supposed to start, or the fact that it is now one year to go until the rearranged Games are due to start.

“It’s just another day,” Storey said. “It won’t feel any different. The event has been moved so there’s no point being overly emotional about these things. There’s a lot worse things happening in the world…

“For the first time last year, I did my own year-to-go countdown, so more fool me. I won’t be doing that this year.”

Instead, there will be another outing for the family motorhome, which has been getting a workout during the pandemic.

“We’ve been going on little trips each week during the school holidays,” said Storey, who has two children, Louisa and Charlie, with former Paralympic cyclist Barney Storey.

“It’s been a bit of an adventure. I get to ride my bike to these places, and we’ve got a wi-fi router in the motorhome now so I can work there and it’s proper multi-tasking.”

Between running the Storey Racing road team and serving as the active travel commissioner for the Sheffield City Region, Storey has plenty to keep her occupied, but Tokyo remains the main focus.

Storey needs three gold medals to overhaul the British Paralympic record set by swimmer Mike Kenny during the 1970s and 1980s, and all things being equal, has every reason to be confident she can take them in Japan.

“I am the world champion in the 3,000m, the road race and the road time trial at the moment and I am Paralympic champion in those events,” she said with no hint of arrogance.

“When I’ve raced those events I have not been beaten, the only time someone else has had those gold medals is when I’ve been away having a baby.

Tokyo Paralympics 2020
Tokyo Paralympics 2020

“There is a lot of history for me in those three events.”

At 42 and some 28 years removed from her debut as a swimmer at the Barcelona Games in 1992, there is a question over how much longer Storey will compete for, but there is no thought of retirement from her yet.

“Another seven?” she jokes when asked how many more Games she would like to race at.

“I have no idea. We work in four-year cycles. We are now working in a four-and-a-half to five-year cycle. And then we will work on a three-year cycle. So who knows?

“There is a Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in a couple of years in 2022. By the time we will have finished Tokyo there will only be a year to go to that. By the time you have finished that there are only a couple of years until Paris…

“I am not shutting any doors and will make a decision when I make it.”