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Tokyo 2021: Sarah Storey, the British cyclist with 17 Paralympic gold medals

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At 43, Sarah Storey is a legend. After winning her 17th gold medal on Thursday, she made history as Britain’s most successful Paralympic athlete. Victim of intimidation in her youth, the champion also had to face eating disorders.

Call Lady Storey. Since the 2012 Paralympic Games, Sarah Storey has been named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. It must be said that this sportswoman wears the colors of her country high. The cyclist is now Britain’s most successful Paralympic athlete after winning in heavy rain on Thursday 2 September her 17th gold medal in the road cycling race (C4-C5).


“I never felt a weight on my shoulders”

“I could never have imagined participating in eight Games, let alone winning medals in each edition, including 17 in gold. It was the dream that I did not have at the start,” she said afterwards. this new victory, according to the official website of the Paralympic Games. “I wanted to be a British athlete and compete for my country for as long as possible. It’s really amazing to still be in great shape at the eighth edition of the Games.”

Since the start of the Tokyo Games, Sara Storey has claimed gold in the 3000m individual pursuit (C5) and the road time trial (C5). “I’ve never felt a weight on my shoulders. Every run is a run, but it’s the sweetest feeling to come back to my room and know that there are a few golds in the trunk for put this one with that one. It makes the tally very real then, “she described.

Victim of intimidation

Sarah Storey was born without a functioning left hand after her arm became entangled in the umbilical cord of her mother’s uterus. His sports career did not begin on the track, but in the pools. She participated in her first Games in 1992 in Barcelona, ​​as a swimmer at the age of 14. Success is already there. She won two gold medals (100 m backstroke, with a world record in 1’15 “09, and 200 m medley, with a world record in 2’39” 32), three silver medals (400 freestyle, 4 x 100 freestyle relay, 4 x 100 m medley relay) and one bronze (100 m freestyle). Four years later in Atlanta, she is still building up a medal in each of her five individual events.

The following Games are more disappointing. From Sydney, she brought back only two silver medals, while she left Athens with two silver medals and one bronze. Shortly after the 2004 Games, an ear infection forced her to temporarily interrupt her training in the pelvis, so she became interested in disabled cycling. It integrates the British national team and connects the performances. At the Beijing, London and then Rio Games, she collected the gold medals on her bike.

But this journey has not always been a long calm river. In an interview with Sky Sports, she revealed last January to have suffered from harassment in her youth because of her early participation in the Barcelona Games: “I had problems with my comrades who thought that if I did not speak about it, it is because that I considered myself superior. It was ironic because if I had talked too much about the Games and my performances, I would have been called a brave man. “

The champion is then the victim of mockery and finds herself isolated: “It was a lonely existence at school, but as I had another life with my swimming friends, my career and my ambitions, it was worth it. hang on. I knew my career in sports would last longer than this bullying in school. “

Despite his determination, these remarks have an effect on his eating behavior. “I stopped eating,” she said. “At lunch, I would go for a walk and not buy anything to eat. I would just grab an apple and go back to class.” The swimmer then loses a lot of weight: “My food intake was probably the only thing I could control during the day, when I couldn’t control the behavior of other children.”

Continue your career until Paris 2024?

Her parents eventually realize her problems and take her to see a specialist. This makes him aware of the risks to his sports career. Years later, Sarah Storey also had to overcome chronic ear infections that led her to switch from swimming to cycling, and then an emergency cesarean when her daughter was born in 2013.

An incredible fighter, she is now a legend with an impressive record of 37 world titles in these two favorite sports. Will she continue to collect medals? The champion has not yet decided: “I need to go home, to rest, to collect my ideas, to talk to Barney (Editor’s note: her husband Barney Storey, three-time Paralympic champion), to the children and to my parents, and to decide what to do next, ”she said. “We talked about Paris 2024. I would love to go on a great bike ride from London to Paris, pulling my bags behind me or something.”

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