The drive towards defending second place on the Paralympic medal table has been kicked off in style this afternoon with two outstanding performances from GB para-cyclists Mark Colbourne and Sarah Storey in the velodrome bringing home a silver and a gold medal.
It took a World Record from Chinese athlete LI Zhang Yu to deny Colbourne the gold medal and push the Briton into the silver medal position.
Storey however, was in no mood to relinquish her Paralympic crown. She produced an outstanding and dominant ride to claim Great Britain’s first Gold of the Paralympics, destroying her own world record en route, and catching Poland’s Anna Harkowska in the C5 Individual Pursuit.
Storey, who only just missed out on becoming Britain’s first cyclist to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games when she was pipped to ride in the team pursuit, is one of GB’s most decorated Paralympians, having started out as gold medal-winning swimmer, before transferring her considerable talents to the cycling world.
The sight of Brits on the podium in the velodrome has become a regular fixture this summer, following the outstanding performances of the Olympic squad, and the early signs are good that the para-cyclists will deliver similar levels of success.
Following their 20-medal haul in Beijing, the para-cycling team has been strongly supported through UK Sport and National Lottery investment in the London cycle, with an overall award of £4,198,000 a significant increase on the Beijing cycle to support their London ambitions.
UK Sport has worked very closely with the para cycling team, in conjunction with the Olympic squad – the two programmes are integrated and based at the Manchester velodrome. In addition to the funding of athletes and their performance programme, UK Sport has worked closely with British Cycling to design and develop equipment, including the track bikes which Colbourne and Storey rode, in line with the UCI’s technical regulations.
They have developed track based measurement tools and systems to accurately monitor athletic performances in partnership with BAE Systems, McLaren Applied Technologies and Sheffield Hallam University. Other projects include targeted investigations into understanding training responsiveness to speed and power stimuli, and support in the development and implementation of an injury surveillance programme.
Liz Nicholl, Chief Executive of UK Sport, said: “It’s fantastic news that ParalympicsGB has made such a flying start to the Games. The atmosphere inside the velodrome was absolutely amazing, and I am confident that this is just the beginning of what will be an outstanding Paralympics for British athletes. Congratulations to both Mark and Sarah for their inspiring performances, which I know will give a lift to the whole team, and generate real momentum.”