Storey speeds into history in Rio with her 12th gold medal

Great Britain's Sarah Storey celebrates winning gold in the Women's C5 3,000m individual pursuit final at the Rio Olympic Velodrome (Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire).
Great Britain's Sarah Storey celebrates winning gold in the Women's C5 3,000m individual pursuit final at the Rio Olympic Velodrome (Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire).
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Dame Sarah Storey won her 12th Paralympic gold medal on the opening day of the Rio Games.

The 38-year-old swimmer-turned-cyclist surpassed former wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as the British female with the most Paralympic titles by winning the C5 three-kilometres individual pursuit in the velodrome.

The honour of Britain’s first medal of the XV Paralympics went to Megan Giglia, who won gold in the C1-2-3 3km individual pursuit moments prior to Storey.

Storey qualified in a world-record time of three minutes 31.394 seconds – more than 17 seconds quicker than Crystal Lane in qualifying.

She overtook her team-mate before the halfway point in the final to claim gold.

Lane, appearing in her second Paralympics, won her first medal with silver.

Storey won her first two Paralympic gold medals as a 14-year-old swimmer in Barcelona in 1992.

She insisted a third successive individual pursuit title since switching to the bike prior to the Beijing Games in 2008 would not be a formality. But it was.

Storey’s class told in qualifying yesterday morning and she delivered with her seventh cycling gold medal at her seventh Games.

Giglia also clocked a world record in qualifying in 4:03.544, more than eight seconds clear of the United States’ Jamie Whitmore, her rival in the final.

The 31-year-old, who suffered a brain haemorrhage in January 2013, won the world title in Italy in March and put in a dominant performance again when it mattered.

She closed in on Whitmore at the halfway mark and passed the American soon after to take gold. She had the option to continue to go for another world record, but opted not to.

“To be fair it hasn’t sunk in yet, all I know is I wouldn’t be here without my team, the back up crew behind me here, my family and friends,” said Giglia.

“I only look forward to the future. I didn’t think I would make it to Rio, I thought it was a bit ambitious but I thought I would give it a go.

“Within the British camp the atmosphere is great, everyone is hyped up and ready to go.

“I hope this will be the first of many golds.

“I’ve still got three events to go so we’ll have to see.

“I’ve got my main event out of the way now so I can just enjoy the rest of them with my legs pedalling fast.”

The action at the XV Paralympics began on day one with one sight many wanted to see at the Olympics but did not – a united Great Britain football team taking on hosts Brazil.

Britain’s seven-a-side footballers, for athletes with cerebral palsy or an acquired brain injury, went down 2-1 at the Deodoro Stadium.

The national Football Associations from across these shores continue to block a British team at the Olympics, but there has been no such issue at the Paralympics, altjough their campaign began on a disappointing note.

Britain's Mick Hill throws the javelin on his way to winning the silver medal at the European Track and Field Championships in Budapest, Sunday Aug. 23, 1998. (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin)

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