One of the great things about the Sports Personality of the Year award is the way it brings together a mix of some of the country’s strongest competitors into a single crystallisation of how successful (or otherwise) the annual competition has been. Thus we have years where Zara Phillips or Joe Calzaghe can emerge as winners and other years where trying to identify a victor is about as difficult as proving successful in a Paralympic sport for years before deciding to tear it up and try another one. I mean, seriously, who’d even try that?
Here’s what we wrote about Sarah Storey before the Paralympics started:
“Sarah Storey is Parasport royalty. After an already-successful Paralympic swimming career between 1992 and 2004 which yielded 16 medals, including at least one medal from her début to her final swimming Games in 2004 and two golds in her first Games at the age of 14. Having been kept out of the pool due to a severe ear infection in 2005, Storey turned to the bike to maintain her fitness levels.
A natural cyclist, Storey made the move to the sport in time to join the GB Team in 2005, competing in her first non-swimming Paralympic Games in 2008. Returning with gold medals in both Individual Pursuit and Road Time Trial, Storey’s winning time on the track would have gained her a 7th place finish in the Olympic finals in Beijing. Storey is ready to dominate both the track and road cycling competition in the Paralympics. London 2012 may well be Sarah Storey’s final Paralympic Games; to see her top the podium again would be a wonderful crowning achievement.”
Here’s what we didn’t say…she was this close to being Britain’s first ever joint Olympian and Paralympian, competing alongside eventual Olympic Gold Medallist Laura Trott and Wendy Houvenaghel in the Great British team’s Gold Medal winning performance at the Colombia World Championships 12 months ago before being informed that her efforts would not lead to a place in the main Olympic squad. In typically stoic fashion, she then emerged from this year’s Paralympic Games with another four Gold Medals. Four! For anyone keeping count, that’s now 11 Gold, 8 Silver and 3 Bronze Paralympic medals stretching from Barcelona in 1992 to London in 2012. Whichever way you slice it, that’s remarkable.
Once you add in the fact that Storey has never collected a Paralympic cycling medal that isn’t the shiniest of shiny colours, it’s clear that we were wrong. Sarah Storey isn’t Parasport royalty. She’s sporting royalty.
Why she’ll win
22 Paralympic Medals.
4 Gold Medals in London 2012.
Seriously, why else?
Why she won’t win
Any other year she probably would have done, but in this year Storey faces the challenge not only of some staggeringly good athletes, but two staggeringly good athletes in her own sport, one of whom has broken every record under the sun by winning the Tour de France and an Olympic Gold. Even if the Parasport vote were likely to swing things – which, given general public voting preferences it quite well could – Storey would still face David Weird whose all-round achievements in London 2012 have been no less impressive. It’s a tough competition, no doubt about it.
Image from https://www.twitter.com/MrsSarahStorey (the lady’s own profile – go follow her now!)