‘Like being in a nightclub’: Manchester’s Dame Storey remembers ‘incredible’ Six Day London cycling event

As one of Great Britain’s most decorated Paralympians, few in sport can claim to have such a diverse background as Dame Sarah Storey after winning medals in cycling and swimming.

But even the multiple champion admits to having never witnessed anything like Six Day London before October’s spectacular event.

Disley-based Storey was one of 19 female riders who helped whip the Lee Valley VeloPark crowd into a frenzy when Six Day racing returned to the English capital for the first time in 35 years.

And with Ministry of Sound resident DJ Martin 2 Smoove providing a party atmosphere from the middle of the 6,000-capacity venue, Storey acknowledged it was a week of racing she will not forget.

“My overriding memory of Six Day London was that it was like a nightclub in a velodrome,” Storey said.

“I have been to the Lee Valley VeloPark many, many times before and taken part in incredible events there but I have never experienced an atmosphere like that before.

“With the DJ booth in the middle of the velodrome, it just created a completely different atmosphere.

“I enjoyed the atmosphere. All sporting events are enjoyable with their own atmosphere but Six Day London was so unique and something that I will never forget.

“It was like you were in the middle of a nightclub and you found yourself jiggling along while you were waiting for your next event.”

Storey has won 11 gold, eight silver and three bronze medals across an impressive six Paralympic Games – an unprecedented feat for a female British athlete and one made all the more impressive when you consider it was achieved in two different sports.

The 38-year-old, who was born without a fully formed left hand, took up cycling in 2005 after reoccurring ear infections hampered her swimming training and within three years she won Paralympic gold in the road time trial and individual pursuit – the latter in a time which would have seen her finish in the top eight at the Olympic finals.

She went on to represent England in able-bodied races at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and has won able-bodied events on the World Cup circuit.

Four golds at the London Paralympics in 2012 and then the birth of her first child were to follow before she returned to the sport and claiming titles at the last three World Championships.

But for everything Storey had ever achieved in the sport and at England’s Olympic velodrome, October was a rare first.

Storey said: “I had never taken part in a Six Day event before and it has been my only experience of it, which is cool because it was in London.

“Also most of the other Six Day events have some sort of Madison event in it which is not really practical for me because with my left hand, I can’t physically do it.

“So when they asked me if I wanted to do it, the first thing I asked was ‘is there a Madison?’

“I have also not done many elimination races and I think I doubled the amount of elimination races by racing the three in Six Day so that was a fantastic learning curve as well.

“Although I had been a points race national champion in the past, for me I have not done a huge amount of it because I have been focussed on time trial events on the track or the road races so it was great to get those nine races across the three days and be in front of that crowd.”

Six Day London saw some of the world’s best descend on Lee Valley VeloPark and Storey went on to finish 11th overall.

She looks back to the event with great fondness and took it upon herself to put smiles on the races of those in the stands.

Storey added: “I was at the very end of my season and I extended my season by an extra five days so that I could take part in the event.

“I wanted to be able to enjoy the atmosphere and create a bit of a stir with some attacks from the front. I wanted to play the role of being a crowd pleaser.

“Most of the girls I was up against were between the European Championship and the start of the World Cup season, which was building towards the World Championship in London, so I knew I wouldn’t have the legs to challenge for the overall lead.

“But it was just amazing to be there alongside the other girls and have the chance to have a few attacks.”

Six Day London takes place between 25-30 October 2016 at Lee Valley VeloPark on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Half term fun, with or without the kids. Tickets on sale now at 

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