Investiture: Dame Sarah Storey hails 'pinch' moment

Investiture: Dame Sarah Storey hails 'pinch' moment


British Cycling Paralympic Podium Programme athlete Dame Sarah Storey has described being made a Dame as a "pinch yourself moment".

The 35-year-old star, who competed at the pool and velodrome across the last six Paralympic Games, was honoured at Buckingham Palace for her services to para-cycling.

After receiving the award from the Prince of Wales, she said: "It's amazing. It's just so hard to put into words, the ceremony and the protocol and the whole elegance of it is just absolutely amazing."

Asked what Charles spoke to her about, the heavily pregnant athlete, from Disley, said he jokingly warned her not to go into labour.

"I've met the Prince of Wales on an occasion before, but he's not done my previous investitures, so it was lovely to chat," she said. "He was asking me if I was keeping cycling - and obviously don't have the baby today!"

The athlete, who won four gold medals in London last year to take her overall tally to 11, said she is still cycling, and plans to train right up to the birth in six weeks.

"...when it comes to honorary awards like this, these are the things you never expect. You can't even dream about them because they always happen to somebody else."

Dame Sarah Storey

Storey made her Paralympic debut as a 14-year-old swimmer in Barcelona in 1992, and went on to win medals in the pool in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens before switching to two wheels after a series of ear infections prior to the Beijing Games, where she won two gold medals.

She said of the investiture ceremony: "It was just lovely.

"The Royal Family are such an amazing example of the service to the country, and I just feel honoured to have been able to be here.

"He (Charles) asked if I had got plans to get back on my bike, and how soon after will I be able to do that.

"He said 'You've got good heritage so maybe your baby will be a good cyclist'."

The athlete described the award as a "huge honour", but said it was also recognition for the people who have supported her along the way.

She said: "It was 21 years ago this month that I received my letter to select me to the Games in Barcelona, and you think about all the people you've come into contact with - coaches and athletes that have beaten you, and you've beaten them. The people that have helped you go faster.

"And you think that everyone made that contribution, and obviously your family at the very centre of it all.

"These beautiful decorations here belong to them as well, because I couldn't have done it entirely on my own."

Asked if she would now expect her friends and team-mates to call her Dame Sarah, she said: "I've been called all sorts of things over the years, so if it catches on, then it'll all be tongue-in-cheek I'm sure."

The Paralympic star said a royal honour differed from winning a competitive event, because she has more control when in the swimming pool or on her bike.

"The sporting achievements are partly in your control, because you train for them, you have that focus, the drive," she said.

"The outcome of the race is obviously out of your control because everyone wants to win, but you can really prepare yourself to be in the best shape to win the gold medal.

"But when it comes to honorary awards like this, these are the things you never expect. You can't even dream about them because they always happen to somebody else.

"So for me, it's still a 'pinch yourself' moment.

"When he read out 'to be a Dame Commander', it was just like, wow, that's me.

"I had no control over this happening, and I feel very, very honoured."