It’s been quite a year for ParaOlympic sports, GB’s achievements at the Rio Games was phenomenal as they amassed 147 medals but one person who stood out was the ever impressive Dame Sarah Storey.
The 38-year-old had another record-breaking Paralympics in which she won Gold in the individual pursuit, the road time-trial, and then the road race, and in the process she broke Tanni Grey-Thompson’s record of 11 Gold’s to make herself the most successful Paralympian ever.
It’s been quite a year for Storey and recognition of that has been rewarded with a spot on the Sport Personality of the Year shortlist, and with Paralympic sport finally getting the well deserved praise and coverage it should be getting it has been Storey who has been a vital component of that.
Storey’s switch from swimming to cycling is often brushed under the carpet
What makes Storey unique from any other competitor was that she switched sport in 2005; after constant ear-infections she decided to try cycling, and since getting on the bike Storey hasn’t looked back.
Not many athletes have the capabilities of being able to switch sports and transition so easily, but Storey has done that and more. Only in recent times have we seen athletes splitting time between two different sports and one example of that is fellow nominated SPOTY star Kadeena Cox who now splits her time between Athletics and Cycling after taking home Gold in C4-5 time-trial.
But Storey’s achievements in swimming often get brushed under the carpet, despite winning five Gold medals during the time in the pool; it has certainly been on the bike where her expertises really lie.
Stunning Rio Games means Storey enters the record books
For Storey, Rio 2016 will go down in the record books. Achieving one Gold medal is something but taking home three in one games and also in the process becoming Britain’s most successful Paralympian ever it was certainly a Games to remember for Storey.
There is no doubting the 38-year-old has cemented her legacy as one of the greatest para-cyclists GB has ever produced and her exploits on both the track and the road was something which sets her apart from other athletes.
Her performances in Rio just oozed star-quality; en-route to winning the C5 individual pursuit on the track Storey obliterated her own World Record in qualify setting a time of three minutes 31.394 seconds, and then in the final she was too much for her compatriot Crystal Lane to take home what was the record breaking Gold medal.
It wasn’t just the track that the 38-year-old excelled on in Rio. On the road she also proved too much for her counterparts. Her impressive victory in the TT underlined her star-quality. She posted a time of 27 minutes and 22.42 seconds which won her the Gold ahead of Poland’s Anna Harkowska who was a full one minutes and 30 seconds behind in second.
If you thought fatigue or the excursions of previous medal winning rides would have got to Storey you would have been sadly mistaken. In the road race Storey used a mix of tactical nous and brute strength to ride away in the last 10km to make sure her exploits in Rio were rewarded with a hat-trick of wins.
Storey is on SPOTY list on merit, so why can’t she cause a shock?
It was always going to be hard for the judges to pick 16 of the best British stars after what has been a truly spectacular year for British sports.
But, with many leaning towards Andy Murray or Mo Farah to take home the prestigious gong it might be worth looking at the underdogs.
There is no doubting Storey is an underdog, but after all doesn’t the British public love an underdog story?
Let’s not be fooled, Storey’s presence at SPOTY shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, the only other person who won three Gold medals this summer is Jason Kenny, no other person shortlisted for the award can boast that?
Storey is undoubtedly there on merit and with the successes of the GB Para-Olympic team this summer it’s nice to see the likes of Sophie Christiansen, and Cox on the shortlist. But why can’t the most successful British paralympian upset the odds and win the SPOTY award?