Sarah Storey struck gold on the opening day of the London 2012 Paralympic cycling, with a towering performance in the C5 Individual Pursuit, breaking her own world record in qualifying before going on to catch her opponent in the final . Mark Colbourne, competing in his first Paralympics, took silver in the C123 Kilo, the best of a trio of Great Britain competitors including former champion Darren Kenny and Rik Waddon.
Great Britain’s Mark Colbourne was the first to medal, winning silver in Men’s C123 1km Time Trial in his first Paralympic Games. Colbourne was the penultimate rider to go, having seen his compatriots Darren Kenny and Rik Waddon already ride. Kenny, gold medallist in the event at both Beijing and Athens, held the bronze medal position until his teammate Colbourne took to the track and produced a 1:16 kilo time, factored down to 1:08.471 putting the Welshman into second place, splitting China’s Zhang Yu Li and Germany’s Tobias Graf, both of whom had set new world records in their respective disability categories. With only one rider to go Colbourne was guaranteed a medal but it was a nervous wait for the Great Britain rider while former world record holder Rodrigo Fernando Lopez of Argentina took to the track. However, the Argentine wasn’t at the height of his powers and slotted into seventh position and the silver was Colbourne’s.
Speaking after the race a delighted Colbourne said: “It’s very exciting and we’ve worked certainly for the last eight months towards this with my involvement I time-trial and on the track as well and a big thanks to all the coaches to get me in the best shape possible, I’m very happy.
“A big thanks goes out to Neil Smith for putting me back on the bike two years ago. I was completely focused on the black line - we’ve done this kind of discipline hundreds of times in training and it’s just repeating the process and trying to blank out 6,000 people if you can. It was very loud, once I’d relaxed into my stride I could hear the crowd.”
Colbourne’s silver was however just the start of the medals for Great Britain, as shortly after came the Women’s C5 Individual Pursuit finals, with Sarah Storey having cruised into the gold medal final with a world record breaking ride of 3:32.170 in qualifying. Storey’s opponent was Anna Harkowska but the Polish rider had an impossible mountain to climb to try and thwart Storey’s golden ambition, having to overcome a 16 second qualifying deficit. Storey started strong and from lap one never looked troubled, almost a second up after the first lap, achieving the catch at just over half distance and raising her hand in victory to the sound of an ecstatic crowd.
Speaking after her victory, Storey said: "I always thought that if I could get off to a great start it would set up the week and hopefully that's the case.
"To get the gold medal is a dream come true."
A few minutes earlier, Crystal Lane, competing in her first Olympics had a tougher task in the Bronze medal final against Fiona Southorn of New Zealand, the Chelmsford born rider having qualified four seconds in arrears of the Kiwi. Lane came out fighting in the opening stages, holding the gap to around 0.5 seconds in the first 1000 metres but at the halfway point the elastic had snapped and gap was over a second and rising. Southorn backed up her qualification ride well, stopping the clock on 3:55.867, with Lane 6.9 seconds down taking fourth, an impressive performance in her first Games.
Women's C5 Individual Pursuit Finals
Bronze New Zealand SOUTHORN Fiona 3:55.867
4th Great Britain LANE Crystal 4:02.773
Gold Great Britain STOREY Sarah (caught)
Silver Poland HARKOWSKA Anna
Women's C5 Individual Pursuit Qualification
1 Great Britain STOREY Sarah 3:32.170 Q WR
2 Poland HARKOWSKA Anna 3:48.885 Q
3 New Zealand SOUTHORN Fiona 3:52.695 Q
4 Great Britain LANE Crystal 3:59.220 Q
5 United States of America SCHUBLE Jennifer 4:00.702
6 United States of America CROWLEY Kelly 4:02.825
7 United States of America NEIMANAS Greta 4:03.200
8 Germany BRACHTENDORF Kerstin 4:12.245
9 Switzerland TRETOLA Sara 4:14.950
10 Switzerland SCHILLIG Annina 4:21.481
Men’s C123 1km Time Trial Final
1 People's Republic of China LI Zhang Yu 1:05.021 WR
2 Great Britain COLBOURNE Mark Lee 1:08.471
3 Germany GRAF Tobias 1:09.979 WR
4 Great Britain KENNY Darren 1:10.203
5 People's Republic of China LIANG Guihua 1:10.211
6 People's Republic of China XIE Hao 1:10.229
7 Argentina LOPEZ Rodrigo Fernando 1:10.689
8 Russian Federation OBYDENNOV Alexsey 1:10.995
9 Great Britain WADDON Richard 1:11.394
10 United States of America BERENYI Joseph 1:11.649
11 South Africa NEL Jaco 1:12.405
12 Canada McDOUGALL Brayden 1:12.683
13 Czech Republic KOBLASA Ivo 1:12.730
14 Belgium BOSMANS Kris 1:12.825
15 Australia NICHOLAS David 1:13.087
16 Ireland SMYTH Enda 1:13.890
17 Republic of Korea JIN Yong Sik 1:14.061
18 Colombia GALVIS BECERRA Alvaro 1:14.275
19 Germany TEUBER Michael 1:14.425
20 Japan FUJITA Masaki 1:14.998
21 Czech Republic STARK Michal 1:15.755
22 Germany WARIAS Steffen 1:15.828
23 New Zealand SMITH Nathan 1:16.159
24 Spain MENDEZ Juan Jose 1:16.743
25 Canada BOLDT Arnold 1:17.304
26 Canada MILLEY Jaye 1:17.631
27 Venezuela GARRIDO MARQUEZ Victor Hugo 1:18.089
28 United States of America ZAHN Anthony 1:23.312