13 March 2019
Storey keeps her eyes on the prize
As Great Britain’s most successful British female Paralympian of all-time, Dame Sarah Storey could be forgiven for resting on her laurels heading into tomorrow’s UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.
But the legendary Storey, who has already won 17 medals in the showpiece event on the Para-cycling track calendar, has no plans to ease off when she competes at this year’s World Championships in Apeldoorn, in the Netherlands, which get under way on Thursday.
The 41-year-old, who has won four Paralympic gold medals on the track, heads Great Britain’s charge and is keen to produce a statement of intent to any enterprising upstarts looking to bring about a changing of the guard at the Omnisport Apeldoorn velodrome.
“It’s always an opportunity to put times down,” said Storey, who will compete in the WC5 category.
“When you’re 18 months out from a Paralympic Games, people are always eyeing up whether there’s any new talent coming along, whether anyone’s made any drastic improvements or changes.
“But to be able to put a good marker down, to show people that you’re still training hard, that you’re still the person that everyone wants to beat – that’s the kind of place where you want to be.
“If there’s some new people coming along, then you’ve got to be prepared to go as fast as it takes to make sure you get on that top step of the podium.”
Familiarity breeds success and Storey is also hoping to make hay once again in Apeldoorn, where she won two gold medals at the 2015 edition of the World Championships.
She added: “Preparing for the worlds is always an exciting time, especially when you’re going back to a place that you know.
“This time, we’re staying at the same place as we did in 2015 for the Apeldoorn Track World Championships, so you know what the drill’s going to be like.
“It’s still exciting. Anytime there’s an opportunity to win a rainbow jersey, it’s certainly going to get the heart beating and it certainly directs the training.”
Storey will be part of a 20-strong GB squad looking to rule the roost in the Netherlands, with a number of cyclists looking to defend their world titles – including Neil Fachie.
The 35-year-old, who will ride in the WB category, has enjoyed a superb start to 2019 so far alongside pilot Matt Rotherham, twice breaking the world tandem kilo.
“It’s been incredible. It almost feels like those records are tumbling all the time,” said Fachie.
“It’s been amazing. 2019 has started so well but it’s all down to the World Champs – that’s the one that everyone’s going to remember.
“If we’re not pushing for the record, then I’m sure our teammates might be.”
At the other end of the scale, 19-year-old Finlay Graham is one of three GB cyclists in line for their World Championship debuts.
“I’m just looking forward to the experience, getting out there and seeing what happens,” said Graham.
“I’m looking forward to competing against the best riders in the world and although I’m one of the youngest riders that are going to be there, it’s going to be a good challenge for me to see where I am in the run-up to Tokyo.”
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