Tokyo 2020 Paralympics: Sarah Storey 'never thought' she'd still be breaking records aged 43

Dame Sarah celebrates her 17th gold medal. Credit: PA

Britain's most successful Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey has said she "never thought" she'd still be competing aged 43.

Dame Storey broke the UK record on Thursday after winning her 17th gold medal.

Despite difficult weather conditions, Dame Sarah was able to claim top spot in the C4-C5 race, which she won both at the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Paralympic Games.

"There was a point where I thought, 'maybe, its not to be'"

She told ITV News: "When I was 14, I wanted to be an athlete for Great Britain for as long as I possibly could be.

"I never anticipated I’d do eight Games and still be here at 43."

The cycling star, who now has 28 medals, trailed veteran German Kerstin Brachtendorf by 75 seconds at one stage but underlined her class to snatch glory in a finishing time of 2:21:51.

ParalympicGB's Crystal Lane-Wright finished seven seconds behind to take silver.

Storey’s trip to Japan had already brought golds in the C5 3000m individual pursuit and time trial, and for the third time in the space of nine days she comfortably held off the attentions of Lane-Wright.

The 43-year-old was already more decorated than swimmer Mike Kenny, 76, going into her final event of the Games, as her haul of medals stood at 27 to his 18 ahead of today's race.

Great Britain's Sarah Storey (centre) with the gold medal, GB's Crystal Lane-Wright (left) in the Women's C4-5 Road Race. Credit: PA

"I’m hugely proud to have won the first gold medal out here for the whole team in a Games that’s broken many records for many reasons. It will always stand out as being incredible," she said.

Despite prolonged dominance, Storey warned ahead of the 78km race that victory was far from a formality. And her prediction proved accurate. In the foothills of Mount Fuji – Japan’s highest peak – Storey was quickly left with a mountain to climb in sodden conditions more suited to her aquatic days.

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Long-time leader Brachtendorf made a brave break away from the peloton as early as the end of the second lap of six.

"There was a point where I thought, 'maybe its not to be'," Storey admitted. The 49-year-old – the bronze medallist from Tuesday’s time trial at the same venue – was one of only two race participants older than Storey.

Storey won five golds in the pool across four Games before a seamless transition to the bike ahead of Beijing 2008, which has brought even greater rewards. Including bronze and silver medals.

Her achievements 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.

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.