Sarah Storey claimed her 12th gold medal to become Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian on a highly successful first day for SportsAid athletes in the velodrome and in the swimming pool at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Sarah surpassed the previous record she shared with Tanni Grey-Thompson, a fellow SportsAid alumna and trustee for the charity, as she won the C5 3,000m individual pursuit final.
Sarah beat Crystal Lane, also a previous beneficiary of SportsAid support who appeared on the charity’s One-to-Watch Award list in 2011, as she took silver. Sarah competed at her first Paralympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 as a swimmer and continued for the next three Games before switching to cycling for Beijing 2008.
"Tanni's still a hero to me," Sarah, who was 14 when she competed in Barcelona, told the BBC. “To go quicker than London after having my daughter Louisa is the icing on the cake. You can never underestimate anyone on the other side of the track. It's amazing and I don't think it will sink in for a very long time."
An hour or so earlier, Megan Giglia, a recipient of a SportsAid award in 2014, won the first medal of the Games for ParalympicsGB as she secured gold in the C1-3 3,000m. Shortly after Sarah’s victory, SportsAid alumnus Adam Duggleby won gold as pilot for Steve Bate in the B 4,000m individual pursuit final.
ParalympicsGB swimmers Ollie Hynd and Bethany Firth both set new world records as they won two golds in the pool. Ollie was a silver medallist in London and went one better this time as he clocked a time of four minutes 21.89 seconds to win the S8 400m freestyle final by a clear margin over his closest competitors from China.
"There isn't a day that's gone by where I haven't thought about London and it's all been about putting it right," said Ollie who was helped by SportsAid in 2011 and 2012. "I knew I needed to go out and do my own race. Although I'm a little bit disappointed not to go quicker, the gold is the most important thing."
Bethany retained her S14 100m backstroke title as she finished in 1:04.05 seconds. Fellow SportsAid alumna Jessica-Jane Applegate took bronze in the same race. There were further bronze medals for Stephanie Millward in the S8 400m freestyle and Andrew Mullen, a SportsAid awardee from 2010 to 2014, in the S5 200m freestyle final.
PHOTO CREDIT - Action Images