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what you missed from Tokyo overnight

what you missed from Tokyo overnight

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Dame Sarah Storey with her gold medal on the podium - PA

Dame Sarah Storey with her gold medal on the podium – PA

“Sweet 16,” declared Dame Sarah Storey, with the widest smile, as a 16th gold medal drew her level with swimmer Mike Kenny as Britain’s most decorated Paralympian of all. The record-equalling feat was delivered with a familiar emphatic flourish, as the ageless cyclist dominated the C5 time trial at Fuji International Speedway, her compatriot Crystal Lane-Wright finishing 92 seconds adrift in silver. Even as a 43-year-old mother-of-two, her supremacy shows little sign of waning.

So thoroughly did Storey eclipse the field that by the end, she was catching the men who had started ahead of her. With a final shot at gold beckoning in Thursday’s road race, she could yet leave Tokyo with gold No 17, establishing her pre-eminence in the British record books beyond any dispute.

“I never set out on this journey to be Britain’s greatest Paralympian,” said Storey, who called the moment a “dream”. “It was asked of me after Rio, what would I do? Would I stop now? Have another baby? The closer we came to Tokyo, the more I saw that this was a possibility, that it really could happen. I have got better as I have got older.”

On the same stretch of track where, 45 years ago, James Hunt sealed the Formula One world title that established him in British sporting folklore, Storey continued elevating her own status as a national icon. Building her lead over Lane-Wright at every intermediate checkpoint, she remained unassailable in these, her eighth Paralympics, sweeping to gold in 36min 8.09sec.

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Storey celebrates winning the gold medal - GETTY IMAGES

Storey celebrates winning the gold medal – GETTY IMAGES

Storey’s golden canon now stretches 29 years, back to the Barcelona Games where she made her debut as a swimmer. She embarked on the transition to cycling due to the persistent ear infections she suffered in the water, and has found her perfect niche, setting a standard with which none of her rivals can live. “I can’t imagine how hard she trains,” said Lane-Wright, who was trounced once more. Asked if she felt any frustration that her career had coincided with Storey’s, she replied: “Not at all. It just means that whenever I retire, I can look back and know I was the best I could ever be.”

Prior to London 2012, Storey, born without a functioning left hand after her arm became entangled in the umbilical cord in the womb, was in contention to compete in the Olympic team pursuit, only to be squeezed out of selection. But in Paralympic time trials, where she has secured golds at every Games since Beijing 2008, she remains out of sight.

“It’s the race of truth,” she explained. “It’s the chance to pitch yourself against yourself more than anything, to see if you can pick off your competitors in the process. It requires the single-mindedness that has carried me through my whole career. If you weren’t single-minded when you followed that black line in the swimming pool, you wouldn’t last very long. That’s probably why I am so suited to this event.”

Weir bows out of Paralympics track events with last place in ‘chaotic’ final

By Gareth A Davies, in Tokyo

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David Weir - PA

David Weir – PA

Six-time Paralympic gold medalist David Weir, in his retirement track race, finished 10th in a new 2:53.54 personal best in the men’s 1500m T54 final and will now concentrate on this weekend’s marathon, a title the 43-year-old claimed at London 2012.

There was drama, too, as Weir went up on one wheel with 200m remaining, but coming home last in the final the racing legend urged UK Sport to invest in the newest chair technology, which he believes GB are falling behind with.

GB team-mate Daniel Sidbury broke the previous world record although five athletes finished ahead of him in a very fast event. It was Switzerland’s Marcel Hug who took his second gold of the Games and rewrote the four-year-old world record.

Sidbury can take satisfaction from his time of 2:51.11, a new British best and seven-tenths quicker than the old world mark.

“It was chaotic, it didn’t feel super-fast but that was probably because everyone was going so fast,” he said, after a race in which all 10 athletes set a new personal best and seven broke the old world record.

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“I wanted the opportunity to race against the best in the world. I’ll have a word with my coach, she’ll know what needs to be done, I know what hard work it takes to get here. I know how much more work it’s going to take to challenge for podiums.

“You respect those that came before you and it’s not just Dave but Marcel also and many others. They set the benchmark pretty high and it’s just a pleasure to be able to compete with them.”

Weir, bowing out on a wheelchair track racing career spanning back to Atlanta in 1996, explained: “I was on two wheels for a good 10 metres, I nearly got wiped out by a Chinese athlete and it totally knocked me off balance,” he said. “I felt I was starting to claw them back. I probably wouldn’t have won a medal but I’d have got a faster time to end my career on the track, but things like that happen in races.”

Weir reiterated his belief that UK Sport should invest in the latest wheelchair racing technology for the next generation coming through with the GB team. “The speed has gone up a little bit but I’m pushing in aluminium chairs, others are in carbon fibre chairs and Marcel’s is on the next level. He’s a fantastic athlete and he’d have probably won in any chair but perhaps the UK needs to invest a little bit more in wheelchair racing.”

Weir added: “Danny [Sidbury] is pushing in a carbon chair but he had to pay for it. His chair is £7,000, Marcel’s is worth £40,000. I love the new technology, I think it’s cool. I was next to Marcel in the call room and his chair looks fantastic. You’ve got to praise the Swiss for doing it for him.”

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On this weekend’s marathon challenge, where Hug will be looking to complete his gold medal hat-trick, Weir added: “It’s not a course that suits my style of racing, I like a technical course because I don’t train on nice smooth road, I’m always twisting and turning, that’s why I do so well in places like London and New York.

“We’ll see on the day but I’ve trained really well for the marathon, it’s going to be a tough one.”

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