Lane-Wright rides off into Paralympic sunset with Tokyo 2020 road race silver
Crystal Lane-Wright called time of her Paralympic career after finishing second to hero Dame Sarah Storey for the fourth time.
Mount Fuji may have been shrouded in mist but this result was never really shrouded in doubt. On a day of very British weather, it all about very British domination.
And there was only one person to lead the charge, Storey making history as she became Britain's greatest Paralympic athlete with a stunning 17th career gold.
She led home a British 1-2, Chelmsford’s Wright-Lane claiming silver, in the women's C4-5 road race, Benjamin Watson and Fin Graham repeating the trick in the men’s race.
Storey, who made her debut as a swimmer at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, would have felt right at home on arrival at the Fuji Speedway, skies were leaden, rain torrential and the temperature - it was positively chilly.
Germany's Kerstin Brachtendorf, six years Storey's senior, had threatened to blow the race wide open as she stormed clear of her rivals, her advantage 75 seconds with just over 26km to go.
Storey - confident the German would pay for her early endeavours - worked hard to close the distance in a small and committed chase group that included team-mate Lane-Wright. With cornering treacherous it was hard to force the pace but eventually it was clear no-one was going to stop this bid for sporting history.
"When Sarah and I got away I told her it was her gold medal. I said 'You don't have to worry, I'm not even going to attempt to take it away from you'," said Lane-Wright.
"This is part of history now and I didn't have the legs, she went so hard. It's easy for me to now say I gave it to her, but she won that fair and square.
"Gold medals aren't the only thing that define it, you also have to look at her as a professional. Even if she'd won silver today, she is still one of the greatest athletes we will ever have.
"I've piggy-backed on that because I'm in the same category and now on the same podium. There are times when I think, 'what would Sarah do?' She inspires me that much."
There were no team orders, though Lane-Wright should share of a little of this golden glow, having worked so hard to close the gap.
"We knew we had to time it right because if you go too hard too early, you’re burning all your matches," said Storey. "Crystal came through on the penultimate climb to make sure we closed that gap, and then it was just down to me. I didn’t touch my breaks and I just went for it.”
Lane-Wright has admitted she's found preparations for these Games hard, especially following the loss of her father-in-law last year and the pressures of the pandemic.
However, the 35-year old has no intention of following the lead of her team-mate, still dominating the world aged 43 and showing no signs of slowing down ahead of the next Games in Paris.
She added: "Right now, I never want to look at a bike again. Five years was a long time, and in order to get through lockdown and get to these Games I had to almost tell myself, 'no more'.
"When we came up the climb I told myself, 'Last time I ever have to do this'. Maybe that was my way of being able to cope with it.
"I feel amazing. That was a really hard road race and my ride was as good as I could have imagined."
Little Clacton's Ellie Challis capped an excellent Paralympic debut with a British record in the 50m freestyle.
The swim star aced the splash and dash event and touched the wall in 54:94 to lower her own national record.
It wasn't enough for ParalympicsGB's youngest member to advance to the final and she finished 13th overall.
17-year-old Challis returns home with a silver medal from the 50m backstroke and plenty of optimism that she will be force at Paris 2024.
Sainsbury’s is a proud supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers to eat better has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s visit www.sainsburys.co.uk/ and https://paralympics.org.uk/ Bucks Free Press
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