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Four times World Champion for three successive years!

by Sarah Storey
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on Feb 13 in Race Blog
Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th February saw the conclusion of the Paracycling Track Worlds and for me it was a mixture of defending my Individual Pursuit title for the 5th successive time and debuting in the Team Sprint event.

Barney was also in action with Neil Fachie in the Tandem Sprint event, whilst Team Storey Sport’s Communication Manager, Helen Scott was piloting her stoker, Aileen McGlynn in the Women’s Tandem Sprint event, the first time the event has been held in 6 years.

The weekend started off in winning fashion, as I first watched my team sprint team mates all take medals in the Men’s Kilometre Time Trial event. There was Silver for Mark Colbourne and Gold for Jon-Allan Butterworth in the new world record for C5 men, as well as Gold for Darren Kenny and Jody Cundy. After listening to “God Save The Queen” being played 3 times, I was ready to race in the final of the Individual Pursuit. Successfully defending this event would mark my 20th World title and would also mean I had won every event [12 in total] available to a C5 woman at World Championships since Beijing in 2008. Some might call it a treble quadruple!

My opponent in the final was the same as the previous 2 World Championships, Greta Neimanas of the USA. I had made the catch to win in both 2009 and 2011 and as expected Greta went out full gas and made me think that the catch wasn’t going to be possible for a third successive time. I just about got enough sight of her back wheel and was able to use that advantage to draw in the catch just after the halfway mark. Winning the 20th World title in arguably my best event was a great feeling, I think back to my first, as a swimmer in 1994 and can’t quite believe just how many races there have been in the last 18 years. It also feels special that in my 20th year as an international athlete I have been able to mark it with 20 World titles!

Sunday morning saw a very busy pit area in the GB camp as we had 3 tandems in the Tandem Sprint events as well as 5 riders for the Team Sprint. Our reserves, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Mark Colbourne didn’t need to warm up, so went to the stands to take on their cheerleading roles!

Barney and Neil took second fastest in the 200m Time Trial for the Men, with team mates Anthony Kappes and Craig Mclean riding an impressive 10.032 to take top spot and the world record by some margin! Helen and Aileen were also fastest qualifiers in a World Record for the Tandem Women and then this was quickly followed by the Team Sprint Qualifiers, where Darren in 1, me in 2 and Jody in 3 just sneaked into the fastest slot for the Gold Medal ride, against the Chinese who were only 0.038 behind!

The morning finished with Barney withdrawing from the Tandem Sprint competition after he overheated and almost passed out after one of the Tandem Sprint Quarter Final rides. As most people are aware Barney is a Type One Diabetic and one of the fine balancing acts he plays during competition is keeping his body functioning with the mix of adrenalin and extra demand for energy. Although his blood sugars didn’t get affected by the exertion, his body got confused and wouldn’t allow him to cool down naturally after one of his rides. Despite being very well hydrated his body wouldn’t sweat and we quickly had to get him covered in ice wrapped in towels. Unfortunately the ice didn’t work quickly enough and Barney made the decision to get back to the hotel for a cold shower. There is only damaged pride now and he is hungry to get back into the saddle and racing again!

The Team Sprint final is normally the last event of a Paracycling Track Worlds, but with the addition of Men’s and Women’s Scratch Races to the programme, the Team Sprint finals were run first in case there were riders competing in both.

Darren, Jody and I lined up knowing we needed to go even better than the morning to secure the top spot. In the event the Chinese knocked a whopping 6 tenths of a second off their qualification ride and a technical issue for me mid banking off the start didn’t help matters. Pulling my left hand clean out of the adapted handlebar I use to compensate for my lack of grip, meant I stalled and lost Darren’s wheel just as he is starting to accelerate through turn two. I chased like a woman possessed and knocked a couple of tenths off my own lap but with the Chinese stepping up, despite us recording a near similar time, we were well and truly beaten and I couldn’t have felt more responsible.

With the video confirming my hand slip and the split times showing a huge gap on the change from Darren to me, there is no doubt we have so much more in the bag and are all gunning to take that time back before London. Jon-Allan Butterwoth and Mark Colbourne as well as Tel Byrne and Rik Waddon who are back in the UK having just missed out on selection for these Championships, all have their names in the hat as potential team sprint riders in London. Rest assured this internal competition will only help the team go faster.

Finishing off the event for Great Britain, was my flat mate from Beijing, Mark Bristow in the Men’s Scratch as well as Helen and Aileen in the Women’s Tandem Sprint and the remaining GB Men’s Tandem in the Tandem Sprint, Anthony and Craig. With a silver from the Girls, marking 3 medals from 3 events, something no other Tandem team had done, and gold from the Guys, Great Britain were able to enjoy the last national anthem played on an afternoon where the honours had been spread between Australia, Ukraine, USA, China and Great Britain.

With the team returning to the UK on Tuesday 14th February there is a couple of weeks to take stock before we will be entering the very final phase of preparation to the big one, London 2012.

Bring it on!

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