Dame Sarah Storey became the most decorated female Paralympian in British history after securing the 12th gold medal of her career at the Olympic Velodrome in Rio de Janeiro.
It was a good day for British cyclists as they won three of the four gold medals available on the opening day of competition.
Storey, who won her first Paralympic gold medal in swimming at Barcelona 1992, began the Games level with athletics great Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson on 11 golds.
A historic 12th title did not look in doubt when Storey produced a world record ride of 3min 31.394sec in qualifying for the women’s C5 3,000 meters individual pursuit final.
The 38-year-old faced her teammate Crystal Lane, who had qualified 17 seconds slower, and overtook her before the 2,000m mark to seal the victory.
Storey was congratulated by Baroness Tanni shortly after the finish of the race, with the cyclist now lying behind only Mike Kenny in the all-time list for Britain.
He claimed 16 golds in his career between Montreal 1976 and Seoul 1988.
The bronze medal was claimed by the United States’ Samantha Bosco, who held off a late surge from Poland’s Anna Harkowska to triumph in 3:54.697, just 0.004 seconds ahead of her rival.
Reigning world champion Megan Giglia had got Britain off to an ideal start in the Velodrome earlier in the session, as she triumphed in the women’s C1-2-3 3000m individual pursuit.
Fresh from setting a world record of 4:03.544 in qualifying, Giglia caught Jamie Whitmore to bring an end to the gold medal contest, leaving the American rider settling for silver.
Alyda Norbruis claimed the bronze medal in a time of 4:10.654, the Dutchwoman finishing seven seconds ahead of China’s Zeng Sini.
The hat-trick of British gold medals was sealed by the men’s tandem pairing of Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby.
Bate, along with his pilot, had carried on the theme of setting a world record time in qualifying by finishing in 4:08.146 over the 4,000m distance.
While they were unable to better the ride in the gold medal race, their time of 4:08.631 was enough to beat the Netherlands’ Vincent ter Schure and his pilot Timo Fransen, who finished in 4:10.294.
The Dutch duo were joined on the podium by their teammates Stephen de Vries and Patrick Bos after they won the bronze medal race in a time of 4:15.769, despite a strong challenge from Spain’s Ignacio Avila Rodriguez and Joan Bertol, who ended fourth in 4:16.674.
The fourth and final track cycling gold on the first day of the Paralympic Games was claimed by the United States’ Shawn Morelli.
The world record holder in the C4 3,000 meters individual pursuit achieved a time of 3:59.407 to end five seconds ahead of Australia’s defending champion Susan Powell.
Victory also saw Morelli add to the world title she earned in Montichiari earlier this year.
Morelli’s compatriot Megan Fisher came from behind in the closing stages of the bronze medal contest to secure the final podium spot, ending in 4:04.081.
New Zealand’s Katherine Horan, who led for much of the race, finished 0.356 seconds off the pace to miss out on a medal.
By Michael Pavitt
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz