Cheshire Olympian couple Sarah and Barney Storey pick up more medals
PUBLISHED: 18:22 30 August 2012 | UPDATED: 15:47 20 February 2013
Beijing Olympic stars Sarah and Barney Storey will leave their home and head for Buckingham Palace this month to collect more medals
To say Sarah and Barney Storey are determined people is an understatement. Between them they have enough medals to weigh down an elephant. World records have been smashed - in swimming and cycling in Sarah's case - they've travelled the globe and in between it all they married at Hollin Hall, Kerridge.
But home is still best for the high-achieving couple. Sarah grew up in Disley and the pair have recently moved back there, just a few doors down from the home she grew up in.
Much of their time is taken up with their gruelling training programmes. Both are very familiar faces at the Manchester Velodrome. But when they do get time off there is nothing they like better than getting out and about in and around the Cheshire area.
Sarah spent many happy days of her childhood playing in the grounds at Lyme Park. Now she likes to take Barney, who moved to the area several years ago, for a stroll around the beautiful estate. They also spend time with family and enjoy the odd cycle ride together.
'I absolutely love Lyme Park,' said Sarah. ' It's so beautiful and it's right on our doorstep. We're really lucky.
'Most of or training is separate but we do go out on a bike ride around Cheshire once a week,' said Sarah. 'It's lovely and it's not long before we're out in the countryside. It is training but it means we get to spend a bit of time together too.'
Paralympian Sarah, who was born with one hand after bones failed to grow, started off swimming with the Disley Dolphins at the local primary school. Following the tragic death of a child who drowned in a local river, the school decided to teach all its pupils to swim. Sarah's teacher recognised a talent in the 10-year-old, and she ended up in Stockport's Metro swimming team. With hard work her success continued and she won her first gold medal - not bad for a 14-year-old. She continued on to win a raft more medals but a bout of ear infections kept her out of the pool. She kept fit by cycling and eventually decided to make the transition to cycling.
It seemed apt that I'd met them at their local pub in Disley because it sits at the bottom of the thigh-burning hill Sarah used to ride up every day on her pushbike as a child.
She said: 'I guess I was used to how tough cycling could be because I used to go to the shop everyday from home and I had to go up and down it. It was ideal for me when I couldn't swim because it was low impact but kept my fitness up.
'When I had the problems with my ears I started to train on a bike with the British Cycling Team so they could see if I had any talent. The first race I raced in was a 3,000 metre and I got a 4.05 time. The world record was 4.02. Then I went onto the Europeans and raced a 4.01 in the heat and a 4.02 in the final - that was my world record then. I couldn't believe it.
'It took a lot of soul-searching for me to leave swimming. I talked to my coach Colin Hood who is just fantastic. He told me to go for it and when I won gold I had a text from him and all it said was "I never doubted it". That meant a lot.'
She met Barney during a competition. He has enjoyed much success as a solo rider in the Olympics and as a sprint pilot in the Paralympics including in Beijing with Stockport rider Anthony Kappes. You might think Sarah and Barney would be competitive rival - both won gold within an hour of each other at Beijing - but nothing could be further from the truth.
'We just both want each other to do really well,' said Barney. 'Our parents are always dotted at various points around the arena and we used to laugh at them for it. But I knew exactly how they felt at Beijing when I was waiting for Sarah to race. My heart was in my mouth.'
Sarah added: 'It's a lovely thing to share. Can you imagine coming home as a family with all those medals? It's just incredible. I had to laugh though because I was waiting to go up on the podium. We had to wait because Barney was running around the track with his top off because he'd just won. I remember rolling my eyes and thinking "come on Barney, it's my turn now".'
They have been involved in helping various children's charities and projects including the Macclesfield Seals Disabled Swimming Club and they are patrons of the Millington-based Children's Adventure Farm Trust.
'It was about being able to give something back,' said Barney. 'We've been given these amazing opportunities and we wanted to help if we could. Sarah visited the farm and was just blown away with what they do there.
'They provide this safe environment. We've held parties to raise money for the charity and we tend to donate a prize for their charity ball every year. We've got one of the previous winners coming down to the Velodrome soon to have a session with us soon.'
The couple have recently returned from a training holiday in Mallorca and are now gearing up for their trip to meet the Queen. Sarah, who already had an MBE for her services to swimming, will collect an OBE and Barney will pick up his MBE.
Sarah said: 'We're going as a team which will be fantastic. At Beijing the atmosphere between us all was brilliant. We were living off the adrenaline. I think it will be like that in London.
'And it's Barney's birthday the day after so we're going to stay down there and celebrate that too. We couldn't wait to tell our families when we first found out. We told them about Barney's MBE on New Year's Eve and they were overjoyed and then I turned to my dad and said "it's an OBE for me". They were all so happy. That's what it's all about for us.'