Dame Sarah Storey

Week 65 (13 - 19 December 2014)

The French public's interest in cycling's World Hour record once pushed coverage of the Tour de France in famous sports newspaper L'Équipe back to the middle pages during the Tour de France. The year was 1993 and the story that readers were clamouring to know more about was the competition between two British cyclists, Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman, as they both attempted and broke the World Hour record within a week of each other.

The story behind Obree's record attempt was particularly enchanting and held sway over the cycling-mad French public in a way that Miguel Indurain's dominance of that year's Le Tour never came close to. Obree's life would later be made into award-winning film "The Flying Scotsman".

Since that eventful summer, the World Hour record has occupied a fond space in cycling fans' hearts and its appeal has continued to grow. And this week a further chapter has started to be written by another British cyclist, Dame Sarah Storey, after she announced that she will attempt to break the women's record on 28 February next year - a record which has stood since 2003.

Storey is a Paralympic swimmer and cyclist and has won gold medals in both sports. She has also competed in numerous able-bodied events and just missed out on selection for the gold medal winning British team pursuit cycling squad for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The World Hour record seems a natural progression for someone with Storey's talent and appetite for surprising people. And it is also the perfect next chapter for the World Hour record as a sporting institution. If Storey succeeds in breaking the record as a para athlete – currently held by Leontien van Moorsel, an able-bodied cyclist – it will provide another romantic element to the World Hour record as an institution. But regardless of the ultimate outcome, Storey's acceptance of the challenge alone highlights the universality of sport and represents an opportunity for the media to generate positive debate about discrimination in society in a wider sense.

Photo: Flickr

JTA's Communicator of the Week will return on Friday 9 January 2015.