I wouldn't swap one of my golds to change any of it: Cycling champion Sarah Storey reveals how jealous school bullies spurred her on to Paralympic glory

By Tamara Hardingham-gill

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She’s become a household name since picking up four medals at this year's Paralympics, and cycling champion Sarah Storey says her phenomenal success was inspired by the bullies who tormented her at school.

The 35-year-old, who now has 11 Paralympic gold medals, has revealed that the constant taunts from her classmates helped spur on to glory.

‘All the name-calling and loneliness toughened me up and made me strong enough to achieve all I have,’ she says during an interview with The Sun. ‘I wouldn’t swap one of my golds to change any of it.

Bullying torment: Sarah Storey poses with all four of her Paralympic gold medals from the London 2012 games

Bullying torment: Sarah Storey poses with all four of her Paralympic gold medals from the London 2012 games

Golden girl: Sarah pictured with fellow champion David Weir during the Closing Ceremony

Golden girl: Sarah pictured with fellow champion David Weir during the Closing Ceremony

‘When I was at my lowest, my parents told me to keep looking to the future - that everything would be all right. I managed to believe them and do just that.

‘It was the best lesson anyone could have taught me.’

 

Sarah, who was born without a functioning left hand after her arm failed to form properly when she was in the womb, begun her career as a swimmer and won two golds, three silvers and a bronze at the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona when she was just 14.

However her success made her an outcast at school and she was alienated by the other girls, who would follow her into the toilet and shout abuse at her as she hid inside the cubicle.

Inspirational: The athlete celebrates with her nephew Gethin after winning the women's individual C4-5 Road Race

Proud auntie: Celebrating with her nephew Gethin after winning the women's individual C4-5 Road Race

‘They’d call me weird, and accuse me of being big-headed when I couldn’t have kept a lower profile,’ she says.

‘They even hated me for coming to school with wet hair after training. It was horrible.’

Sarah eventually began skipping lunch at school in order to avoid the bullies and her weight decreased dramatically.

Her concerned mother took the teenager to see a doctor, who warned her to ‘sort herself out’.

Sarah, who grew up in Cheshire, slowly regained the weight and left her tormentors behind when she went to college.

In it to win it: She now has 11 Paralympics gold medals

In it to win it: She now has 11 Paralympics gold medals

She continued to compete and won three golds at Atlanta in 1996. But her swimming career finally came to end due to persistent ear infections.

Sarah decided to switch to cycling and has never looked back.

‘As long as I was successful I didn’t mind what sport it was in,’ she said.

She went on to win two gold medals at Beijing in 2008, and added four more titles to her collection during this year’s competition.

The athlete, who is married to fellow cycling gold medallist Barney Storey, is now looking forward to spending some quality time with her husband.

‘I’m looking forward to sitting down with our cat, Alfie, on my knee, and chatting about it with Barney.

‘But I’ll miss all this - it’s been one of the most incredible experiences of my life.’

Team Storey: Sarah with her cycling champion husband Barney

Team Storey: Sarah with her cycling champion husband Barney

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Sarah's having the last laugh now!

Click to rate     Rating   4

Hey bullies! Are you watching Sarah now? And how amazing are your lives now....hahaha! Go Sarah...you left those losers miles behind you in the dust :-)

Click to rate     Rating   20

Hey bullies! Are you watching? How amazing is YOUR life now....hahaha!!! Go Sarah...can't see those losers for dust now.

Click to rate     Rating   7

Gorgeous girl; no doubt jealousy played a big part of the bullying at school, what a good job she had encouraging and fabulous parents.

Click to rate     Rating   12

knighthood's and dame's are all too easily given out i feel, however of all athletes over the summer she is most deserving.

Click to rate     Rating   4

AMAZING story and great inspiration for us all. They say sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt me. Well done! you are a great paralympian! :)

Click to rate     Rating   2

Unfortunately, Sarah's story is just the tip of the iceberg where disabled abuse is concerned. Though she has done incredibly well, the disabled as a whole are still struggling to be integrated into mainstream society and the sad fact is, with the right wing media targeting them as 'scroungers' and the Tory government cutting benefits, it's going to get worse.

Click to rate     Rating   8

That showed them then! Wonder what they've done with the gifts life gave them, I can safely say not as much as this young woman! Enjoy your medals.

Click to rate     Rating   7

how pretty is she!

Click to rate     Rating   84

Living well truly is the best revenge. Well done! :-)

Click to rate     Rating   98

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