Dame Sarah Joanne Storey, DBE (née Bailey; born 26 October 1977) is a British Paralympic athlete in cycling and swimming, and a multiple gold medalist in the Paralympic Games, and six times British (able-bodied) national track champion (2 × Pursuit, 1 × Points, 3 × Team Pursuit). Her total of 28 Paralympic medals including 17 gold medals makes her the most successful (by gold medals) and most decorated (by total medals) British Paralympian of all time as well as one of the most decorated Paralympic athletes of all time. She has the unique distinction of winning five gold medals in Paralympics before turning 19.
Storey's major achievements include being a 29-time World champion (6 in swimming and 23 in cycling), a 21-time European champion (18 in swimming and 3 in cycling) and holding 75 world records. She is regarded as one of the most experienced campaigners in the history of the Paralympics as she took part at the Paralympics on eight occasions in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020. She is a current para world record holder in women's 3000m individual pursuit and hour record.
On 2 September 2021, she surpassed Mike Kenny's 16 Paralympic gold medal record to become Great Britain's most successful Paralympic athlete of all time after securing her 17th Paralympic gold medal when she won the women’s road race C4-5 event.
Storey was born Sarah Bailey in Manchester without a functioning left hand after her arm became entangled in the umbilical cord in the womb and the hand did not develop as normal. As a schoolgirl, she was subjected to bullying by her school mates and also faced eating disorder issues at school. She joined her first swimming club at the age of ten and was told by her coach that she had started her training too late to be good at anything.
In 2007, she married tandem pilot and coach Barney Storey. Storey gave birth to a daughter on 30 June 2013 and a son on 14 October 2017.
In April 2019, Storey was appointed Active Travel Commissioner for the Sheffield City Region.
Swimming at the Paralympic Games
Storey began her Paralympic career as a swimmer, winning two golds, three silvers and a bronze in Barcelona in 1992. She made her maiden appearance at the Paralympics in 1992 at the age of 14. She continued swimming in the next three Paralympic Games before switching to cycling in 2005, reputedly because of a persisting ear infection. It was revealed that she ended up with chronic fatigue syndrome before her 19th birthday.
She retained her Paralympic gold medals in women's 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley events at the 1996 Summer Paralympics. Despite the ear infection triggered by chronic fatigue syndrome, she continued to participate in swimming and claimed four silver medals and a solitary bronze in the next two Paralympic Games in 2000 and 2004 before quitting the sport.
At the 2008 Paralympic Games, her fifth, Storey won the individual pursuit – in a time that would have been in the top eight at the Olympic final – and the road
Storey also competes against non-disabled athletes and won the 3 km national track pursuit championship in 2008, eight days after taking the Paralympic title, and successfully defended her title in 2009. In 2014, she added a third national track title with a win in the points race.
Storey qualified to join the England team for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, where she was "the first disabled cyclist to compete for England at the Commonwealth Games", against non-disabled cyclists. She was also the second Paralympic athlete overall competing for England at the Games, following archer Danielle Brown earlier in Delhi.
In 2011, Storey competed for one of the three places in the GB squad for the women's team pursuit at the 2012 Olympic Games. Although she was in the winning team for the World Cup event in Cali, Colombia in December 2011, she was informed afterwards that she was being dropped from the team pursuit squad.
London's 2012 Paralympics Games saw Storey win Britain's first gold medal, in the women's individual C5 pursuit. She went on to win three more gold medals, one in the Time Trial C4–5 500m, one in the Individual Road Time Trial C5 and finally one in the Individual Road Race C4–5.
In the Rio 2016 Paralympics Storey became Britain's most successful female Paralympian when she won the C5 3000m individual pursuit final.
She became the first athlete to win the gold medal for Great Britain at the 2020 Summer Paralympics when she defended her Paralympic title in the women's individual pursuit C5 event. It was also her fifth Paralympic gold medal in track cycling and her tenth Paralympic gold medal in women's cycling. It was also her record 15th gold medal in her Paralympic career. During the qualifying heat event at the 2020 Summer Paralympics, she also incredibly shattered her own world record by four seconds in the individual pursuit C5 category.
^"Press release: PEARL IZUMI BOOT OUT BREAST CANCER TEAM LAUNCH". Pearl Izumi. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2015. This weekend saw the official launch of the Pearl Izumi Boot out Breast Cancer team. The team, led by Sarah Storey and managed by Barney Storey is made up of nine riders and the team will be riding in the major UK events, including National Road, Time Trial and Track Championships, National Road Series, Tour Series, Ride London and the Milk Race, as well as seeking to gain invitation places in some key UCI races.
^"Dame Sarah Storey DBE". Team Storey Sport. Sarah and Barney Storey. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 2014 saw Sarah and Barney launch their own women's cycling team riding in aid of Boot Out Breast Cancer. The team, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, dominated the UK domestic racing scene in their first season and are set to ride in 2015 with an even stronger line up.