Updated: Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 @ 5:30pm

London 2012 is long gone, time to get pedalling: Manchester heroine Sarah Storey eyes gold defence at Rio

London 2012 is long gone, time to get pedalling: Manchester heroine Sarah Storey eyes gold defence at Rio

By Charlie Talbot-Smith

With 11 Paralympic gold medals across two sports to her name, Manchester cyclist Sarah Storey could be forgiven for easing off somewhat following a sensational summer.

Four golds from four events at London 2012 made it 22 medals overall for Storey, drawing her level with wheelchair athlete Baroness Grey-Thompson and swimmer Dave Roberts in career titles.

Having eased to gold at her home Games on the track and on the road, former swimmer Storey continued Britain’s excellent cycling summer following the exploits of the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Laura Trott in the Olympics, for which she narrowly missed out on selection herself in the team pursuit.

Now as the calendar year draws to a close, the 35-year-old is preparing for a return to full training and has lost none of her motivation.

“I am really ready to start training again,” she said. “It’s going to be fantastic to start the ball rolling for the next three-and-a-half to four years.

“Gradually I am getting more and more time with my bike. Motivation has never been a problem for me at any point.

“I love sport and even if I was retiring I would still be riding my bike so for me it will always be a part of my life, and it doesn’t matter if that means competing at the highest level or just cycling events for fun.

“Every year we have World Championships on the road and then on the track so there is plenty to get your teeth stuck in to.

“I would eventually like to turn professional on the road within the able-bodied peloton, and then transfer those skills back into the Paracycling peloton.

“There is so much to work on and the road is the place I need to explore even further over the next four years.”

Storey - who is married to Barney, another of Britain’s Paralympic cycling gold medallists in London – has already signalled her intention to defend her titles at Rio 2016.

Her chances of also competing in the Olympic Games have been given a boost by a change in the rules which will see an additional cyclist added to the team pursuit event, going from three members to four following next year’s World Cup.

“Ultimately that ought to play to my strengths,” admitted Storey, who was speaking at the Aviva School Sport Matters Awards which recognises fantastic achievement in school sport over the past year and forms part of Aviva’s commitment to unearth the next generation of British sporting talent.

“I am an athlete that has a lot to offer and when the powers that be are putting together their ideal squad then hopefully my name will be involved with that, but I have other events to concentrate on as well.

“Ultimately I am trying to be the best athlete I can be and I have never been one to pigeon hole myself into one event, so if team pursuit plays a part within the bigger picture that will be fantastic but I have other ambitions to fill alongside that.

“I have four titles to hopefully defend in Rio but once we know what the schedule will be like we can put together a more sophisticated plan and go back to defending as many as possible.”

The Aviva and Daily Telegraph School Sport Matters Awards recognise outstanding achievements in school sport across the country, and are part of Aviva’s wider commitment to support the next generation of British sporting talent. For more information go to aviva.co.uk/rugby-sponsorship