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Sarah Storey targets Olympic and Paralympic double

With exactly two years to go till London 2012, cyclist reveals her plans

With the London 2012 Olympic Games starting exactly two years today, to be followed a month later by the Paralympic Games, Great Britain’s Sarah Storey has been talking about her plans to try and claim a berth in the Team GB cycling squad at both events.

“For me the Paralympics is my sixth games, so I’m almost the grandma of the team,” says Storey in an interview with the BBC. Making her debut as a swimmer at Barcelona in 1992 when she was just 14 years of age, between then and 2004, Storey won 16 Paralympic medals in the pool – five gold, eight silver and three bronze – before switching to cycling for Beijing, where she won gold in the time trial and the individual pursuit.

Storey, who now rides professionally for the Horizon Fitness team, formed earlier this year, says that the potential opportunity to compete in the Olympics “would be a first for me, a first for cycling. It would just blow me away, it would be phenomenal to do that.”

Now aged 32, Storey first hopes to compete for England in the team pursuit and road time trial in this October’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October. “We’re just taking baby steps at the moment, starting to get familiar with the team pursuit event as it is, continuing to push forward on the road time trial event that’s always been a good strength and see how it goes,” she explains.

It’s obvious that she relishes the challenge. Asked what she needed to do to secure a place on the team, Storey, who recently completed the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, says, “If I get the selection in two years it will be all about whether or not I’m technically as capable as I am physically. There’s no argument that I’ve got good numbers coming out of the rig in the lab, that I’ve got some good scores on the individual pursuit.”

Storey continues: “It’s no guarantee that a great individual pursuiter will be a great team pursuiter, but I’ve always enjoyed that process of learning new things and getting to grips really with a new event. As a swimmer I did probably seven or eight different events in one games, so for me it’s like another natural process really.”

Switching to new sporting disciplines has been second nature to Storey since her earliest days. As an all-round sportsperson, she comes across as a younger, female version of the classic comic strip hero, Wilson of the Wizard, when she runs through some of her achievements.

“I guess the challenge is not just it’s a new event, it’s a new sport altogether,” she reveals. “When I was a kid I used to do every sport going, I was on the boys’ cricket team for a while, I played on the county netball team, I was the county table tennis champion, I ran for the county and swimming was the first sport that chose me at international level. So it’s not unfamiliar territory to be doing a different sport,” she claimed.

Storey’s move into cycling itself came from her willingness to try something new and her innate ability to excel at it. “When my ears were bad in 2005 and I didn’t have the opportunity to be in the pool training, I used the bike to stay fit, and I suppose you could say it got out of hand, by the time my ear infection had gone, I was a world record holder on the track and I’d won the European road race, the rest is history as they say,” reveals Storey, whose husband, Barney, is himself a double Paralympic gold medal winner as tandem pilot to Anthony Kappes in Beijing.

As well as her ambitions to compete with the world’s best able-bodied cyclists, Storey, who was born with a deformity of her left hand, is targeting further Paracycling success, with the World Track Championships taking place in Canada in August, followed by the World Road Championships at a venue yet to be decided later in the year.

“Last year I was fortunate to win two gold medals on the road and two gold medals on the track so I’ve got four titles to defend, so it’s going to be a busy schedule to keep to,” says the Mancunian. “And also you never know, the times can compare quite favourable, so if I do a great time at the Paracycling Track World, then that could stand me in good stead for selection to the able-bodied team. So it all crosses over quite nicely,” she concludes.

So far, five people have competed in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They are New Zealand’s Neroli Fairhall and Italy’s Paola Fantato, both in archery, the American marathon runner Maria Runyan, Polish table tennis player Natalia Partyka and the South African swimmer, Natalie du Toit.

Besides Storey, Irish sprinter Jason Smyth, gold medallist in the 100 metres, who is visually impaired and won Paralympic gold in the 100 and 200 metres at Beijing and trains alongside former world champion Tyson Gay, hopes to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics in London.


For more news on Sarah Storey and the rest of the Horizon Fitness team, visit


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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skippy | 13 years ago

When someone such as this lady gets out of their comfort zone , that being Paralympic events which they are able to win and tryout for Olympic Events knowing they will likely fail to qualify in, they should be applauded !
People such as Sarah are an inspiration to all both olympic & Paralympic.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” Mahatma Gandhi

More Paralympians will likely follow the example set here!

STATO | 13 years ago

You do raise an interesting point Andy, one im sure many of us have wondered about before. I do wonder tho if its because we are sterotyping the handicapped in this regard, i have to say it does seem off that people can compete in both but then i also wonder that why should they be excluded from competing in the paralympic's just because they are so damn good at their chosen sport! I think as long as the qualification/eligability for the paralymipcs is appropriate... (I actually looked it up on Wikipedia, here is what it says)

Wiki wrote:

"Given the wide variety of disabilities that paralympic athletes have, there are several categories in which the athletes compete. The allowable disabilities are broken down into six broad categories. The categories are amputee, Cerebral Palsy, intellectual disability, wheelchair, visually impaired, and Les Autres (literally "The Others", which are athletes with disabilities that don't fall into the other five categories; these include dwarfism, multiple sclerosis, and congenital deformities). These categories are further broken down into classifications, which vary from sport to sport. The classification system has led to cheating controversies revolving around athletes who over-stated their disabilities in addition to the use of performance-enhancing drugs seen in other events."

...then why not, i say best of luck to her tho it looks like she dosnt need it!

bikeandy61 | 13 years ago

I had to add a sour note and this isn't really meant as an attack on Sarah.

However, surely you are either an able bodied athlete who can potentially compete at the Olympics or you have a disability and can enter the paralympics. Surely competing at both is contradictory and I have to say I would find it disrespectful to competitors in both games.

Though I realise that this is a "muddy" subject and has come up before (the amputee with the carbon lower leg blades for instance).

Sorry to be a sour puss.

antonio | 13 years ago

We, Bolton clarion cycling club had the pleasure of Sarah as our guest of honour for our presentation night this year, what a fantastic personality, she charmed every one off their feet. If Sarah sets her sights on something she will sure as anything accomplish it. A fantastic woman, a fantastic cyclist, we wish her well.

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