Paralympics: Ms. Sarah Storey wins first gold medal for JB Prize in Tokyo

You don’t get a great deal of emotional range with Ms. Sarah Storey. Her gold medals can seem pretty cool – probably because she’s been winning them since she was a teenager and she’s now forty-three.

That’s why her response Wednesday to a seemingly innocuous question about competing in these Paralympics without her husband and children in attendance seemed so unusual.

For once, there was no answer available, only traces of tears in Story’s eyes and a struggle for words. The day’s work was wrapping up in the ring and you could hear a pin drop in 10 seconds or so before you finally spoke.

Sarah Storey took a giant step into history by winning the 15th gold medal in the Paralympic Games

Storey could now equal swimmer Mike Kenny of the 1970s and 1980s as the most successful British Paralympian if she wins another in the road time trial next Tuesday.

Storey could now equal swimmer Mike Kenny of the 1970s and 1980s as the most successful British Paralympian if she wins another in the road time trial next Tuesday.

Storey won Britain's first medal at the rescheduled Tokyo Games on Wednesday morning

Storey won his first British medal at the rescheduled Tokyo Games on Wednesday morning

“It’s very difficult,” she said at the end. It’s really really hard. You know they are the biggest motivator. It’s even harder now because you can’t see them. And after all the things they bore.

Unbeknownst to Story, the BBC’s breakfast interview with the family in question – her husband and coach Barney, eight-year-old Louisa and Charlie, four – gave a sense of what she’s been missing out on. Luisa explained how her father woke her up at 6 a.m. to watch her mother win the gold medal.

She then prompted Charlie, preoccupied with leaning against the edge of the studio couch, to alert him to the fact that it was his turn to answer. ‘No!’ He answered and buried his face in his father.

Here was a distinct sense of how the Paralympics, which had few spectators, could feel to those inside – even Story, who had just won her 15th Paralympic gold, her first here, and broke her own world record by four seconds when she I spoke.

Story (left) broke her own world record on the way to defeating teammate Brett Crystal Lynn Wright

Storey (left) broke her own world record on the way to defeating teammate Brett Crystal Lynn Wright

Story became the first woman to break the three and a half minute barrier

Story became the first woman to break the three and a half minute barrier

She has made clear the thoughts of every mother who leaves Louisa or Charlie at home.

“Leaving them and not being here, not being able to hold them when they have wiggles,” she said.

But during the seven minutes or so of Wednesday’s all-important race time, I put aside any grief. Storey wanted to go under three and a half minutes in the 3,000m individual chase since 3:31 in Rio, where she also won the gold. But 3:27? “This is obscene!” confessed.

She is so far ahead of the rest in her sport that a little competition would make the combo a good force. Its superiority means it has not broken through the path of David Weir or Eli Symonds, who have traveled through ups and downs.

Needless to say, Story didn’t feel that way. “I’ve never felt so advanced,” she said. “My flatmates will tell you that this week, I was like, ‘Do I have enough in the tank? “

Her support team will list the reasons why she should apply. For example, the three-week Lanzarote bootcamp I gave for these games, where I worked in conditions hotter than Tokyo and intentionally avoided accommodations with air conditioners on, just to conserve heat.

She can now surpass swimmer of the 1970s and 1980s Mike Kenny as the most successful British Paralympian if she wins another gold medal in the road time test next Tuesday and in the road race that follows.

The closest thing to Storey’s competitor is her British compatriot Crystal Lynn Wright, who is second only to silver looking golden to her.

Race Dunn finished second in the men's 100m butterfly final at S14 on Wednesday to win the silver medal

Race Dunn finished second in the men’s 100m butterfly final at S14 on Wednesday to win the silver medal

Dunn congratulates Brazilian Gabriel Bandera after the latter won the gold medal

Dunn congratulates Brazilian Gabriel Bandera after the latter won the gold medal

Lynne Wright’s family was due to be here, too, although their absence was exacerbated by the loss of her father-in-law in the early months of Covid. It was deserted on the side of the track after the final. When she arrived to speak, it took her half a minute to find any words.

“Family is everything, really,” she said. “You can’t do that without a family.”

There were physical losses, too. Marie Batoyer, who took the bronze for France behind the British, was so exhausted that in the interview area she was worried, as she was lying on the ground.

“I woke up with the impression my heart was going to pop out of my chest,” she said of the morning of the race. “Management, it was complicated.”

For Storey, gold may seem like a vindication after the controversy surrounding her disclosure of negative levels of salbutamol for asthma in a 2012 London urine sample. “I said everything I said and needed to say at the time,” he replied.

Lynne Wright said her best would be to come in next week’s road race, although that’s exactly the race in which the woman she always tops might aim to make history.

“I need to make sure I keep my legs safe and keep pushing,” Storey added. ‘There is more to come.’

Diary of Ian Herbert Paralysis

The GB Tennis team remains untouched despite one of their coaches contracting Covid. An internal investigation concluded that the coach had not been in contact with Alfie Hewitt, Jordan Withy, or others on the seven-man squad.

There is no joy on day one for Egyptian table tennis player Ibrahim Hamato, who works by moving the ball in the air with his toes before hitting it by holding the bat in his mouth. Hamato, who lost his arms when he was run over by a train, lost his first match to Korea’s Park Hong Kyu. Asked about a YouTube video that has more than 3.3 million views, he said, “Nothing is impossible.”

GB’s Tully Kearney took the silver in an exciting pool race, leading many of the 200-meter freestyle finals until outnumbered by Chinese defending champion Zhang Li in the last five yards. Reese Dunn, a first-timer in the Games, won silver in the 100-meter butterfly.

The absence of fans made the wheelchair rugby sound more bruised than usual as GB faced Canada. Former RAF Captain Stuart Robinson starred in an excellent pool win by 50-47 over GB.

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