Hopes of Olympic gold dashed: Sarah Storey announces British Cycling have dropped her from team pursuit squad

Rider who helped win World Cup gold in Colombia last week says she will now target up to five Paralympic golds

by Simon_MacMichael   December 7, 2011  

Sarah Storey (through wheel)

Sarah Storey’s dream of winning Olympic gold at London 2012 to add to the 18 Paralympic gold medals she has won in swimming and track cycling is over she has announced on her blog – just days after she helped played her part in Great Britain’s women’s team pursuit squad’s victory at the UCI World Cup Classics event in Cali, Colombia.

The news that she no longer figured in Team GB’s Olympic plans was broken to Storey before she’d even had a chance to get home and unpack her bags to add that latest gold medal to her trophy cabinet, the 34-year-old revealed in a post on her blog yesterday evening.

Official confirmation arrived this morning from British Cycling, which has said that Wendy Houvenaghel, Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell are the four riders who will now train for the team pursuit at London 2012, in which three riders compete, compared to four in the men's event.

Storey, who was born with a deformity in her left hand, won her first swimming Paralympic gold at Barcelona in 1992, and switched to track cycling ahead of the Beijing Games where she took gold in the individual pursuit and the time trial.

Her ambitions to compete in the London 2012 Olympics received a boost in February this year when she made her debut at the Manchester World Cup, where Great Britain set the second fastest time in history to win.

Competition for the three places in the women’s team pursuit has been intense, with 14 riders at one point being under consideration. In October, Rebecca Romero, winner of the individual pursuit at Beijing, revealed that injury had forced her to withdraw from the pool of riders from which the Olympic team will be drawn.

The event provided the sole victory for Britain's cyclists at the UCI Track World Championships earlier this year, but Storey was missing from the line-up since that event clashed with the Paralympic Track Worlds.

She said last night that after reviewing the squad, British Cycling had decided to reduce the squad, bringing an end to her Olympic ambitions.

"I collected my bags in Manchester and before heading home was told my performance in Cali was not as good as they [the selectors] were looking for and so this is the end of the journey for me with the Great Britain team pursuit team," she explained.

"I have always said that London 2012 is about riding as many events as I am good enough for and so now it is important for me to concentrate on the other events I have at the Games."

Those include four individual events at the Paralympics, where the 34-year-old is also now considering entering the mixed team sprint.

"Selection for the Paralympic Games will be made on June 20th, so my priorities don't really change a great deal as I have to concentrate on trying to get selected for and defend the two gold medals I won in Beijing,” she continued.

"I always said the Team Pursuit was another opportunity to become the best athlete I could be and it would be a bonus if I was able to make the event work alongside the events in which I am Para-cycling World Champion.

“As with any team event the squad has to work to get the fastest three riders on the start line in the Olympic final and in the eyes of the selectors I am not able to contribute to this process any longer," she concluded.

4 user comments

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I hate to be a miserable git about this,it isn't something I aspire to.

It must be totally galling to help a team to win and then be dropped from the final team selection, this I understand and sympathise.

What I am unhappy about, and have said so before, is athletes competing in both able bodied and disable bodied sports and events. In my book if your disability is such that you can compete on a comparable level to an able bodied athlete, then that is where you should compete. If you can't compete at that level but can at disabled level then that is where you should be competing.

I guess if I met Sarah or saw her interviewed I might think she was quite nice. But I have to say competing in the Olympics and Paralympics (or aiming to) is IMHO nothing short or greed for glory. This isn't aimed at Sarah, just a responce to this story I'm pretty sure that there are many others the world over who are trying to do the same thing. The IOC are culpable in this. There should be a very simple rule. If you intend to compete as an able bodied athlete in any event you are automatically excluded from disabled competion whether the same event or not.

In my book it's up there with a certain English road cyclist who was on a british team who competed in the 87 Tour De France. After his professional career had been over he competed in the first 24hr MTB race, not only as an amatuer, which is reasonable, but I believe in the Novice category. He won, surprised or what. The satisfaction must have been uplifting.

posted by 1961BikiE [80 posts]
7th December 2011 - 13:29

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' guess if I met Sarah or saw her interviewed I might think she was quite nice. But I have to say competing in the Olympics and Paralympics (or aiming to) is IMHO nothing short or greed for glory.'
Sarah was guest of honour at our club presentation night, Bolton clarion cycling club, a small but enthusiastic club, had you been there I swear you would have been charmed off your feet. Attending and enjoying our humble event can hardly be described as hunting for 'greed and glory' Along with Barney, her husband, she fully engaged all present affording us the best presentation night we have ever had in our one hundred and fifteen year history.

antonio

posted by antonio [828 posts]
7th December 2011 - 14:55

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I have to disagree with 1961BikiE it is about time that an athlete can compete in both competitions. How many of you realise that when Steve Redgrave won his last Gold medal he was diabetic? (He was diagnosed in 1997). So he could potentially have competed in both competitions.

There is probably a perception that the paralympic athletes are not as fit as olympic athletes, a perception that would be destroyed by the first athlete to compete in both.

I am disappointed that Sarah Storey has not made the team. I hope that her place has genuinely gone to a better athlete and that this decision wasn't made to avoid the appearance of "positive discrimination".

I would like to think that the paralympics would make people realise that disabled people have a lot to give to society and particularly in the workplace. I would also like to think that being dismissed "because you would not fit in" would be a thing of the past (this was given as a reason at tribunal for dismissing me from a supposedly diverse employer).

However my suspicion is that these events will get much less TV coverage.

Finally, competing as a novice when you clearly aren't is just dishonest. Nothing surprises me any more...

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [252 posts]
7th December 2011 - 21:21

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antonio wrote:
affording us the best presentation night we have ever had in our one hundred and fifteen year history.

I knew you were one of this site's elder statesmen Antonio, but even so... Wink

Nice comment, by the way.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [6924 posts]
7th December 2011 - 21:34

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