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Great Britain’s Sarah Storey is targeting more medal success after dominating the women’s individual C5 pursuit to claim ParalympicsGB’s first gold medal of the London Games.
The 34-year old caught Poland’s Anna Harkowska in the gold medal ride-off with over 1000m of the 3km remaining, winning her third Olympic cycling gold and successfully defending the title she won in Beijing.
Storey, who won two gold medals on the track and road in Beijing, broke her own world record from 2008 in the morning’s qualifying session. A time of 3:32.17 was 16 seconds faster than Harkowska and she continued her dominance in the final, ahead of the Polish rider from the start gate before overtaking to win to a rapturous reception from the velodrome crowd.
“The first one is always the hardest one to get out of the way and to come away with a gold medal is a dream come true.”
“I suppose it does look easy but mentally you have got to prepare, anything can happen,” Storey said.
“My PB coming into the Games in Beijing was a 3.48 and I went 3.36 at the Games so I have to respect all my competitors. I didn’t expect to catch her as quick as I did and obviously step my game up as well. So much goes into it emotionally that nothing is ever easy at this level.
"[I was thinking] ‘just got to get there as quickly as possible’ and you’re just willing the rider to come to you as quickly as possible so you can finish.”
The victory is the perfect start for Storey, who will now compete in C4-5 500m time-trial on the track before aiming to defend her road time-trial crown as well as featuring in the C4-5 road race.
“I always said that if I could get off to a really great start that would set me up for the rest of the week so hopefully that is the case,” Storey commented. “The first one is always the hardest one to get out of the way and to come away with a gold medal is a dream come true.”
Fellow Great Britain rider Crystal Lane narrowly missed out in the bronze medal ride in her first Paralympic Games. Lane qualified in fourth and started well in the medal ride before New Zealand’s Fiona Southorn eventually overcame her in the latter stages of the race.
“I was really pleased I was able to come back and ride the pursuit with this crowd around,” Lane said, admitting she didn’t expect to qualify for a medal ride.
“To do it the first time was a dream but to do it twice in one day was just perfect. I decided to go out a little quicker in the final and from the emotion of being at my first Games and riding this morning my legs started to get tired.”