Who is Dame Sarah Storey ParalympicGB's most successful athlete ever?

Dame Sarah Storey's husband Barney Storey and their eight-year-old daughter Louisa told ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson they're "incredibly proud" of the Paralympian after she broke her own world record and won her first gold of Tokyo 2020 on August 25

Almost three decades after she first topped the podium in 1992 at Barcelona, Dame Sarah Storey is now Britain's most successful Paralympian.

The 43-year-old won her 17th medal after she overcame difficult weather conditions to win the C4-C5 race.

Storey has repeatedly said that earlier in her year she was motivated by medals, but now her family is her "biggest motivation".

During the Games she has been visibly emotional when describing how "hugely difficult" it is to be apart from them.

Cyclist Dame Sarah Storey was a successful Olympic swimmer before turning her attention to cycling. Credit: PA

Speaking after she broke her own world record and won her first gold of the Games on August 25 in the C5 pursuit, Storey fought back tears as she paid tribute to husband Barney, eight-year-old daughter Louisa, three-year-old son Charlie and her parents who couldn't accompany her to Tokyo due to Covid restrictions.

Dame Sarah spoke of the challenges of balancing elite sport with attempting to be the “best mum in the world”. “It is really, really hard,” she said.

“I FaceTimed them [the family] last night... It is harder now because you can’t see them and share it with them, and all of the things they put up with."Husband Barney, who woke up at 3.45am to watch his wife's first race from home, told ITV News last week how "incredibly proud" he is of her "staggering" achievement and said even he is still amazed at her work ethic.

"I still don't fully understand how she has so much drive and motivation to still succeed and win as she does at the age of 43," he told ITV News.

The fellow athlete told how difficult it had been being separated from his wife, adding: "The hardest thing this time round was watching one of her interviews afterwards when she got quite emotional and upset because the family couldn't be there with her.

"That's probably the hardest part."

Dame Sarah Storey (right) and fellow cyclist Crystal Lane-Wright (left)

Their daughter Louisa told ITV News she was a "thousand times prouder" of her mum.

Storey’s achievements, which began at the age of 14 in 1992 at the Barcelona Games - where she claimed two golds, three silvers and a bronze in the pool - are even more remarkable considering she has dominated the world in two sports. She had won 16 Paralympic medals as a swimmer before an ear infection led to her switching disciplines in 2005 – and becoming even more successful on the bike. In less than a year she broke the world record for the para-cycling three-kilometres individual pursuit - and the rest is history.

The remarkable story of Sarah Storey:

Storey was born in Eccles, Manchester, in 1977 with a partly formed left hand.

At the age of four she took to the pool and, after watching 15-year-old Sarah Hardcastle win silver and bronze at the the Olympics two years later in Los Angeles, she had her eye on glory. Storey did not know the Paralympics existed until 1990 but just two years later she was competing – and winning – in the pool.

Two golds, three silvers and a bronze were an incredible return as she became Britain’s youngest Paralympic gold medallist – a record which lasted until Ellie Simmonds won in Beijing 16 years later. Three more golds followed in Atlanta in 1996, while the Sydney and Athens Games returned five more medals before the ear infection changed the course of her career – and the record books. Her first international cycling competition was the 2005 European Championships. She won three gold medals. More success followed in the 2007 World Championships. She returned to the Paralympics for a fifth time in 2008 and promptly added two gold medals to her collection. Her time in the individual pursuit would have seen her finish eighth in the able-bodied event.

43-year-old Dame Sarah Storey has made history by becoming the most successful ParalympicGB athlete of all time. Credit: PA

Storey regularly rode able-bodied events, winning the individual pursuit titles at the British Cycling Championships in 2008 and 2009 before competing for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, where she finished sixth in the women’s individual pursuit, ahead of Laura Trott. She had hopes of making the team pursuit squad for the 2012 Olympics. Although she was part of the successful team at the 2011 World Cup event in Cali, Colombia, she missed out on selection for London. But there was no stopping her at the London Paralympics. She won two golds on the road – the time-trial and the road race – and added two more on the track in the individual pursuit and time trial, while husband Barney piloted Neil Fachie to gold in the men’s 1km time-trial. After London, the Storeys had a baby but it didn't take long before Sarah was back on the bike. More world titles followed in 2014, while the following year she was 563 metres short of breaking the women’s able-bodied UCI hour record. Three more golds followed in Rio and, following the birth of her second child three years ago, there were doubts whether she would continue competing. But she had history in her sights and few will bet against her achieving it.