Sarah Storey taking nothing for granted as landmark gold medal beckons

Dame Sarah Storey insists gaining outright status as Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian is far from a formality as she is “not that infallible”.

Cycling star Storey emulated Mike Kenny’s long-standing national record of 16 golds by breezing to victory in Tuesday’s C5 time trial to claim her second title at Tokyo 2020.

The irrepressible 43-year-old has a chance to end the Games having made an unprecedented 17 career trips to the top of the Paralympic podium in GB colours, with the C4-5 road race to come on Thursday.

Despite conceding that her dominance may appear effortless, Storey believes she is constantly being “hunted down” by rivals and expects to be “the most marked person” during her quest to make history.

“Anyone who knows me knows just how much preparation I put into this – it is never a forgone conclusion,” said the Manchester rider, who won her first five golds as a swimmer along with eight silver and three bronze for a total of 27 paralympic medals.

“Whether it is another athlete, whether it is something that happens on the course, whether it is a vehicle, there is always something out there on the race course that you don’t necessarily get to see when you are (watching) on a TV screen.

“I know how hunted down I am. You have to put in more effort to stay ahead than you do to catch up. Everybody is looking at you.

“You are the most marked person. And I probably will be on Thursday morning. It is not a formality.

“The thing is you have to be in to win it. Anyone has that opportunity. I am not that infallible. It may look like that from the outside. I am a human being.”

Talk of Storey surpassing 76-year-old swimmer Kenny began long before she arrived in the Japanese capital and has gathered momentum due to characteristically commanding displays.

The mother-of-two smashed her own world record en route to retaining her C5 3000m individual pursuit title on the opening day of action in the Izu Velodrome and backed that up in the time trial at Fuji International Speedway in the foothills of mountain which lends its name to the circuit.

Adding to those two successes would bring a landmark achievement, yet the dream could still be scuppered from within the British camp.

Crystal Lane-Wright has been overshadowed by her more distinguished team-mate in the Far East, trailing in her wake and settling for two silvers.

The 35-year-old from Essex favours the road race event and could pull off a major upset.

“To be honest, before we got here, I didn’t realise that was going to be a milestone for her,” Lane-Wright said of Storey chasing 17 golds.

Great Britain’s Crystal Lane-Wright celebrates silver in the women’s C5 time trial
Great Britain’s Crystal Lane-Wright celebrates silver in the women’s C5 time trial (Tim Goode/PA)

“I’d never work against Sarah, not at all.

“But there will be parts of the course that suit me better and parts of the course that suit her better. It’s just the strongest person on the day.

“We hope that one of us will win but mustn’t look too much at us as there’s actually a lot of people in our category who are really good climbers.

“You just never know what’s going to happen. It’s not like a timed event. But I think you’re going to watch a good race, I’ll definitely give you that.”