Sports Personality of the Year: Why Sarah Storey should win

Each of the 12 Sports Personality of the Year contenders has an advocate explaining why they should win. Here, three-time Paralympic gold medallist Barney Storey explains why he is backing his wife for the award.

Is Sarah Storey too good for her own good?

Over eight days this summer, the 34-year-old completed the cleanest of sweeps, remorselessly tearing through her Paralympic opposition, first in the velodrome and then around Brands Hatch.

In her first event, the women's C5 individual pursuit, she overhauled silver medallist Anna Harkowska with half of the 3km course ridden.

In the final of her last event, the road race, she led the field home by more than seven minutes.

  • Finest moment: Free-wheeling down a red-white-and-blue Brands Hatch home straight in glorious isolation to clinch a fourth London 2012 gold in the road race.
  • Historical context: Her 11 Paralympic gold medals matches the most of any Briton since the start of the modern Games in 1988.
  • In her own words: "The records are lovely things to talk about but each race is an achievement in its own, each is hard fought. Just being able to say that you have won for your country is a great honour."

The Olympic Broadcasting Service failed to supply live pictures of that fourth gold,  but, without a serious threat to Storey to spice up the narrative, one of the most important moments of the Games may not have been the most immediately engrossing.

Husband Barney Storey, who won gold and silver as a pilot to Neil Fache at London 2012, believes that victory without crowd-pleasing drama is a privilege Sarah has bought in sweat and training miles.

"One thing that I get to see that a lot of people don't is just how hard she works and how much she puts into it," he told BBC Sport.

"I think that the margin that she beat her rivals by was just down to sheer bloody hard work.

"Some people may look at it and think 'oh, it was easy, she won by such a huge margin', but you never know in Paralympic year. People can step up massively and you have to be on top of your game."

It was not just against her Paralympic rivals that Storey was being judged however - she also had some Olympic ghosts to chase.

BBC SPOTY 2012 - The contenders

Twenty-six days before Storey slingshotted her way around the velodrome's pine boards to win her first London 2012 gold, her compatriots Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell had won Olympic team pursuit gold on the same stage.

Storey, who was born without a functioning left hand, could easily have been part of that trio. One of five riders in contention for the three spots, she won World Cup gold in Colombia alongside Trott and Wendy Houvenaghel in December 2011.

Such is Britain's embarrassment of riches in the event however, that rather than strengthen her case, she was dropped from contention before she had even completed the journey back to her Cheshire base from South America.

Denied the chance to bridge the summer's twin sporting peaks by competing in both Olympics and Paralympics, Storey delivered crushing dominance in the latter.

She may have soon transformed races into pedal-powered processions, but as husband Barney describes, the devil is in the detail.

Contenders on Twitter

* Katherine Grainger and Bradley Wiggins do not have Twitter accounts

"She really is up there as a pioneer in her own sport," he added.

"She is posting the sort of times that would get her a medal ride at able-bodied world championships, whereas the lads' C5 disability category are a long way behind."

"I was lucky enough to follow her around on the Tour de Limousin, an able-bodied road race, in July in France.

"On the final and hardest stage she was in a breakaway of three with Marianne Vos,  who a couple of weeks later became the Olympic road race champion.

"At world level in women's cycling, she is a very, very good rider, one of the best."

Storey, who won five golds as a swimmer before switching to cycling, has now matched the total of 11 Paralympic golds won by wheelchair racer Baroness Grey-Thompson.

Yet, with the women's team pursuit being increased to four riders per team for the Rio 2016 Olympics, Barney concedes that the prospect of "crossing over" was still a topic of conversation when Storey met up with Rowsell for training in Lanzarote earlier this month. 

"She and Joanna Rowsell are good friends; they are going to talk about stuff like that. I don't think she will ever say never," he added.

Last 10 winners

  • 2011: Mark Cavendish (cycling)
  • 2010: Tony McCoy (horse racing)
  • 2009: Ryan Giggs (football)
  • 2008: Sir Chris Hoy (cycling)
  • 2007: Joe Calzaghe (boxing)
  • 2006: Zara Phillips (Equestrian)
  • 2005: Andrew Flintoff (cricket)
  • 2004: Dame Kelly Holmes (athletics)
  • 2003: Jonny Wilkinson (rugby union)
  • 2002: Paula Radcliffe (athletics)

"The door is never shut. She has the ability, she has the engine, and, with the women going up to four riders for Rio, that is definitely a role she could easily turn her hand to.

"Her greatest strength is that gritty determination. You speak to any of her team-mates, even the team pursuit girls, and most of them are not that keen to go out training with her.

"I think 'dread' is the wrong word, but they know how hard she trains."

"Dread" might have been the right word for how her Paralympic rivals came to feel on seeing Storey on the London 2012 startline.

But as an athlete who competes with the world's best in both disabled and non-disabled sport, admiration is just as universal.