Sarah Storey shows way to gold for GB Paralympians
The West’s Paralympians won their first medals of the London 2012 Games on the very first day, after overcoming some early disappointments.
Swimming star Nyree Kindred won Britain’s first medal in the Aquatics Centre with a silver in her event – the 100m backstroke in the S6 category.
The Herefordshire swimmer, who is 30 next month, is competing in her fourth Paralympics, having already won two golds at Athens in 2004 to go with three silvers and a bronze in 2000 and 2008.
Her achievement of getting onto the podium at her fourth consecutive Paralympics was all the more remarkable because Kindred, who suffers from cerebral palsy, only gave birth to her daughter 18 months ago. She is married to fellow Paralympic swimmer Sascha Kindred, and lives in Belmont, Herefordshire and trains at Leominster’s swimming club.
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After qualifying with the fastest time of 1.27 minutes – her fastest-ever time – Kindred was beaten into second place by Chinese double-arm amputee Lu Dong, despite finishing strongly in the closing stages.
China tops the medals table after the first day and it was a Chinese cyclist who ruined a Dorset cyclist’s day in the Velodrome. Darren Kenny had hoped for gold in the 1km time trial to go with the gold medals he won in 2004 and 2008 but the six-time Paralympic champion from Verwood, near Bournemouth, was left disappointed.
His swift kilometre put him in first place, but China’s Li Zhang Yu then went out and smashed the world record, and when British team-mate Mark Colbourne bagged a silver medal with his ride, he knocked Kenny down into fourth place and out of the medals.
There was also disappointment for Bristol shooter Karen Butler, who competed in the tough R2 10m air rifle shooting event. From ten metres away, shooters have to hit a target measuring four-and-a-half centimetres across, with the bulls-eye 10 point part just half a centimetre across.
Butler, along with two other British women, failed to finish the qualifying contest with a top eight finish needed to make the final. She finished 12th with a score of 384 out of a possible 400, just seven points away from the last qualifying place.
There were celebrations back on the track for Dorset-born cyclist Barney Storey, who is scheduled to compete as an able-bodied tandem rider guide for sight-impaired cyclists. He also trains his wife Sarah Storey, who scooped the first gold medal for Britain at the Paralympics.
The star of the track powered home in front of thousands of roaring fans who turned the velodrome into a seething cauldron of emotion as they roared her to victory.
Her win came just hours after she smashed her own world record on the track in the 3km C5 individual pursuit.
Storey caught her opponent just six-and-a-half laps into the scheduled 12-lap race.
The 35-year-old swimmer-turned cyclist described her eighth Paralympic title as a ‘dream come true’.
It is her latest addition to a glittering CV, having won five golds in swimming and three in cycling. She holds a staggering 19 Paralympic medals in total.
It is hoped her victory, which came after Crystal Lane missed out on bronze in the same event, will spark a gold rush in the coming days.
Storey, who was born with a partly formed left hand, caught her opponent in today’s final after just 1km, causing the race to finish early.
After being presented with her gold medal, she said: “I always thought that if I could get off to a great start it would set up the week and hopefully that’s the case.
“To get the gold medal is a dream come true,” she added.
Meanwhile, Bath swimmer Kate Grey said being asked to be on the presenting team for BBC Radio 5Live’s coverage has eased the heartbreak of missing out on competing.
The 23-year-old suffered from a bout of glandular fever this year which interrupted her training, and left her short of the qualifying time.
“It was just over a week after I'd missed out at the trials when I got a call from the BBC saying someone had recommended me as a possible summariser,” she recalled.
“I pretty much fell off my chair crying I was so happy and it just goes to show that every cloud has a silver lining – I always knew being a chatterbox would pay off one day.
“I’m so lucky I still get to be a part of London 2012. I visited the GB swimmers at their training camp in Manchester last week and it was great to be around all my friends again,” she said.