If there is a single athlete that can make Britain’s Sarah Storey sweat in the Class C5 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, it’s definitely Poland’s Anna Harkowska. Storey will arrive in Brazil with four Paralympic titles to her credit earned at the London 2012 Paralympic Games – two for track cycling and two for road cycling. However, Harkowska fully intends to put an end to the Briton’s nearly four-year domination.
The Polish athlete defeated Storey in the Scratch Race at the Montchiari UCI Para-cycling Track World World Championships in March. Even if the event isn’t on the programme in Rio, Harkowska now knows she can win against her principal rival.
A skilled runner, turned triathlete, then cyclist, Harkowska’s life completely changed in 2002. When crossing the road to catch a bus, the then 22-year-old was hit by a car. Yet the 26 fractures didn’t stop her. After numerous surgeries and months of rehabilitation, she got back on her bike and won her first medal after her accident at the 2006 National Championships – a bronze medal affirming that a prolific paracycling career had begun!
Ten years after the accident, Harkowska provided her country with three medals, earned at the London 2012 Paralympic Games: a silver each in the time trial, the road race, and the individual pursuit.
Now, at 36 years of age, Harkowska is a consistent medallist. Her list of accomplishments over the past four years include six second place finishes in the last three UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, as well as a silver and bronze medal in the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.
Harkowska will be representing her country after a successful Polish campaign in the Rio 2016 Olympic cycling competitions: Maja Wloszczowska won bronze in the Women’s mountain bike race, and Rafal Majka took bronze in the Men’s road race.