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Storey bags cycling gold

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Saturday, September 01, 2012

LONDON - Cyclist Sarah Storey on Friday morning stormed to her eighth Paralympic gold, taking the women's C5 individual 3km pursuit after a lightning-quick qualifying time that would have won her a non-disabled title.

The 34-year-old rider's winning performance, which opened the hosts' gold account, came on a day of new world bests in the Velodrome and in swimming, as China took the first gold of the Games in the first day of competition.

Storey, who won five Paralympic swimming golds before switching to the bike in 2008 and winning two more in Beijing four years ago, lapped Poland's Anna Harkowska with just under half of the 12-lap race to go.

The British cyclist earlier clocked a new world best of 3min 32.170sec, which would have won her silver at the World Championships earlier this year and the UCI Track Cycling World Cup at the same venue in February.

That World Cup race, a test event for the Olympic Velodrome, was won by her British compatriot Joanna Rowsell in 3min 32.364sec. Rowsell took Olympic gold earlier this month in the team pursuit.

Storey, who was born without a functioning left hand, said afterwards, "I always thought that if I could get off to a great start it would set up the week and hopefully that's the case.

"To get the gold medal is a dream come true."

Fiona Southorn of New Zealand took bronze after beating Britain's Crystal Lane.

In the women's C1-2-3 pursuit medal ceremony China's Zeng Sini broke the world best in qualifying and beat Australia's Simone Kennedy to take gold. Allison Jones of the United States won bronze.

In the equivalent men's race, China's Li Zhang Yu was too strong for Britain's Mark Lee Colbourne, while Germany's Tobias Graf finished in third place.

Susan Powell, who also lowered the world record in the women's C4 3km individual pursuit qualifiers, won Australia's first gold of the Games, beating Megan Fisher of the United States.