Dame Sarah Storey is Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian in history having won 14 Gold, 8 Silver and 3 Bronze medals across an impressive 7 Paralympic Games. There is also no doubt she is one of the most versatile athlete’s in the World having won World and Paralympic Gold medals for her country across two sports [swimming and cycling] and across 12 very different events [6 in the pool and 6 on a bike]. In an international career that has spanned more than 24 years, Sarah Storey [nee Bailey] has a unique and inspiring story, not least because she has also won some of her gold as an able-bodied athlete.
In London 2012, at the biggest Paralympic Games of all time, Sarah topped the medal table for the British team with 4 Gold Medals from 4 events. Following these Games Sarah took a break from racing to have her first child, and returned to action with a World Record at the 2014 World Track Championships, eclipsing the time she set to win her first gold medal in London!
The impressive comeback set Sarah up for an unprecedented build up to her 7th Paralympic Games in Rio during which time she was the first woman to attempt the UCI Hour Record since the previous mark was set in 2001, she won a stage of the Tour de Bretagne, 4 Para-Cycling World titles, a bronze in the National Time Trial Championships and the able-bodied National Points Race title, all inside the first 15 months after the birth.
Setting up her own cycling team and taking it to UCI level in 2016 ensured the perfect build up to defend her Paralympic crowns in 2016. During the Games her dominance of the C5 class continued and she collected 3 gold medals in Rio, extending her margin of victory from each event in London, including a sensational world record in the 3000m Individual Pursuit where she rode to a 3.31.2
With the continued improvements she is making Sarah has stated her intentions to continue to Tokyo in 2020.
It is an exciting prospect that a true heroine of Paralympic Sport and Cycling will continue to challenge for medals over another 4 year cycle, during which time she will also be part of the IPC Athlete Council. This work adds to her current position on the UCI Para-Cycling commission where she also works in a voluntary capacity to try and improve the athlete experience by contributing to the continued development of the sport.
When asked about her secrets of success Sarah has always been a firm believer in continually challenging herself and changing the stimulus of racing to remain fresh and ready for new talent coming in to the sport.
In the 3 years prior to her success in London, Sarah began racing in the UCI peloton scoring some impressive results including; standing on the podium after placing 3rd behind Marianne Vos just 7 days before she won the Olympic Games Road Race, podium places in stages of the Krasna Lipa Tour and being virtual leader during the final stage of the Tour of the Freestate during an epic solo breakaway. Sarah is the most highly ranked Paralympic athlete in world sport, competed for Team England at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 and missed out on selection for the Great Britain Olympic team in 2012 due to the strength in depth of talent at British Cycling.
Based south-east of Manchester in Cheshire, where she grew up and was first inspired to become an athlete, Sarah lives with her husband Barney and daughter and spends much of her time training in Cheshire and the Peak District, or else whizzing round the boards of the Manchester velodrome.
Having competed for the Great Britain Paraswim team from 1992 until 2005, Sarah found her second sport of cycling by accident. Forced out of the water for much of 2005 with a series of ear infections, much of Sarah’s conditioning work that year was done on a bike and by the end of that year she had broken the world record for the Paracycling 3,000m Individual Pursuit. The decision to switch into full-time cycling was not an easy one, but since that switch Sarah has built on her solid foundation from the pool to such an extent that it is often forgotten how dominant and versatile she was as a young swimmer.
During her brief stint on the Great Britain Team Pursuit team, Sarah was part of the British trio that missed the 3,000m World Record by 0.188s as they claimed victory at the Manchester World Cup. Later in 2011 Sarah was again on World Cup duty when the squad won gold in the Columbian round of the series.
With her events in the pool ranging from 50m to 400m and her events on a bike ranging from 500m to 150km, it is easy to see why Sarah is such a versatile athlete and her impressive medal haul only confirms this too.
- 25 Paralympic Medals
- 14 Paralympic Gold Medals [5 swimming, 9 cycling], 8 Silver Medals [swimming], 3 Bronze Medals [swimming]
- 29 World Championship titles [6 swimming, 23 cycling]
- 21 European titles [18 swimming, 3 cycling]
- 7 World Cup titles [5 Paracycling, 2 able-bodied cycling]
- More than 140 National titles [including 6 able-bodied National titles on the track]
- 75 World Records
- Polka Jersey holder: 2015 Tour of California, 2016 Tour of Brittany
- Most Aggressive rider Jersey Holder: 2016 Tour of California
- 2012 National Road Race Series Champion with 4 victories from 4 races
- 2014 & 2015 National Time Trial Series Champion
- 2014 saw Sarah and Barney launch their own women’s cycling team riding in aid of Boot Out Breast Cancer. The team, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, dominated the UK domestic racing scene in their first season winning 28 races and the team title at the Tour Series.
- 2015 the team continued as Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International winning 33 races & again the team title at Tour Series.
- 2016 the team became UCI registered as Podium Ambition powered by Club La Santa and continued to dominate UK racing whilst also embarking on a challenging international programme across Europe and the USA. Winning 32 races and placing riders in jerseys for at least one stage in 3 different tours, the team unfortunately folded due to being unable to find a new title sponsor.