Student commissioned to illustrate Britain’s most decorated Paralympian

22 December 2021

Illustration of Dame Sarah Storey
Dame Sarah Illustration
Type: Text
Category: Student stories

Third year Illustration student Sally Waite presented 28-time Paralympic medal winner Dame Sarah Storey with a framed illustration at the BT Sport Action Woman Awards.

The awards, which were broadcast live on BT Sport, celebrate the achievements of inspiring female athletes.

Shortly after announcing their shortlist for 2021, which consisted of Dame Sarah Storey, Rachael Blackmore, Emily Campbell, Laura Kenny, Kadeena Cox and Emma Raducanu, BT announced their intention to commission bespoke portraits of the athletes.

As Sally explained in a live interview with footballer Chelcee Grimes, “BT put a callout on Twitter, which I responded to. My passions come from female empowerment… it seemed like the perfect job to apply to!

“It was important to me to be a part of something so empowering, in an industry where there are so many incredible women who deserve to be recognised and celebrated.”

Sally was thrilled to be selected by BT for the job, and set about her task of illustrating one of Britain’s most extraordinary athletes. 

Dame Sarah Storey has had a remarkable career. She competed at her first Paralympic Games as a swimmer aged just 14 in 1992, winning two golds, three silvers and a bronze at the event.

Sarah continued to compete as a swimmer at the next three Paralympic Games, racking up a further 10 medals in that time. She then decided to swap events, probably to give someone else a chance, leaving the pool to take up the saddle and compete as a cyclist. 

Remarkably, Sarah dominated her new sport instantly. At the first Paralympics that she competed at as a cyclist, Sarah took home two gold medals. At the subsequent three Paralympics she competed in, she amassed a further 10.

Now aged 44, and having won 28 medals at 8 different Paralympic Games, Dame Sarah is one of the most experienced athletes in Paralympics history. To put her achievements into further context, she is currently level on medals with Michael Phelps, who is the most decorated Olympian in history. 

And Dame Sarah has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She will seek to add to her medal tally at 2024 Paris Games, where she has already outlined her plans to win three more gold medals.

When presented with Sally’s illustration at the BT Sport Action Woman Awards, Dame Sarah said, “It’s absolutely amazing. I absolutely love it. She [Sally] couldn’t have chosen a better picture.

“There were all sorts of pictures that came out of Tokyo but that is one of the pictures that sums up the enormity of what was happening, because there was nobody there. You can see on my face that I’ve crossed the line and won that first gold medal and I’m overawed.

“People assume that when you’ve got lots of experience and been there before that it’s the same emotions every time, but it never is, and that illustration captures it amazingly.”

See more of Sally's work

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