A lot has changed for Great Britain’s Sarah Storey since winning four cycling golds at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. One year later, she gave birth to her daughter Louisa.
But not only has Storey kept training throughout her pregnancy and now motherhood, she also believes being a parent strengthens her mind, which will be useful at Rio 2016.
“I think parenthood, in particular motherhood, gives you a better balance in life and this is a huge advantage over the other athletes who go back to their hotel room to wallow in their own thoughts and panic about the race coming up,” she said.
“I get no time to panic or get stressed about sport so it is a huge bonus I did not realise would happen.”
Having a child whilst training for Rio 2016 is not easy. Storey has had to adjust her sleep and training schedules in order to properly prepare for September’s Paralympic Games, her first as a parent.
“Louisa and I co-sleep so that we all get more sleep and this has worked brilliantly for me not losing out on those important hours of rest and recovery,” she said.
“From a food perspective, we have always just given her the same food we eat and so when we travel she will just tuck in to whatever we have.”
Storey believes this is what makes her daughter adjust well to the hectic travel schedule. “We can now move hotels every night and [Louisa] can adjust to time zone changes as a result of never having a strict routine.”
Still, motherhood is just unpredictable, if not more than any sport. Sometimes the unexpected happens and it becomes hard to leave everything behind and focus on the race alone.
“I have missed one day of training,” said Storey, who also competed at four Paralympic Games as a swimmer.
“[Louisa] was suffering with sickness and tonsillitis at this year’s Track World Championships so it was very difficult for me to leave her and ride three events on the day she was at her worst.”
Storey, however, credits her family for getting her through the 2016 UCI Para cycling Track World Championships in Montichiari, Italy, where she collected one gold and two silvers.
“I have an incredibly supportive family and I do not even think anyone outside of the family realized she was ill,” she said.
Even though Storey is the most decorated British female Paralympian of all time and will compete in Rio at her third Paralympics as a Para cyclist, she prefers to distance herself from any exterior pressure.
“I have been preparing to be in the best physical condition I can when my competitions start on 8 September,” she said.
“But I have no idea whether this is the first medal chance for the team or not. I never focus on these things to be honest but on the process of getting to the start line and do the best performance I can.
“I hope everyone remembers me as being an athlete that worked hard for the races she won.”
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.