Great Britain’s women’s team pursuit squad have added another gold medal to the home nation’s tally.
Jo Rowsell, Dani King, and Laura Trott won in the most convincing fashion, setting a sixth world record from their last six competitive rides.
The ecstatic trio’s celebration sparked some of the most emotional scenes yet witnessed in the velodrome, and an impromptu rendition of Hey Jude, led by spectator, Sir Paul McCartney.
Ed Clancy continued his convincing campaign in the men’s omnium, while Jason Kenny set an Olympic record en route to qualifying for the quarter finals of the men’s sprint.
Women’s team pursuit
The most exciting of the qualification heats saw the USA eliminate Australia, despite the southern hemisphere squad starting at a pace that put them on track to beat the world record set yesterday by Great Britain.
But when the home nation rolled out, it was to set yet another world record,dipping below the 3.15 barrier for the first time to record a time of 3.14.582.
An impossibly close ‘B’ final between Canada and Australia, taken by the North Americans, stoked the crowd further as anticipation grew for the arrival on track of Rowsell, Trott, and King, and their American opponents.
The outcome was a formality, but no less exciting as a consequence. Coach Paul Manning, a gold medalist in the men’s team pursuit in Beijing, put his charges on a different schedule to earlier rounds, with each taking shorter turns.
Despite the altered strategy, the outcome was reassuringly familiar: victory in a world record time, on this occasion an astonishing 3.14.051, half a second quicker than the record they’d set just hours earlier.
The trio were clearly delighted by their victory, leaving their bikes to embrace family members in the crowd and then each other.
King said: “I can’t describe how I’m feeling right now. I’m just ecstatic. It feels amazing. I can’t believe we’ve done it.”
Such was their dominance that the British trio looked as if they were going to pass their American opponents on the track but ran out of laps before a seemingly inevitable catch was made.
Rowsell said: “The last couple of laps we could just about see them. You can’t believe it until the gun goes at the end. You don’t know what’s going to happen in those last couple of laps. You just have to keep pushing.
“But I believed in us from the start line for that final. I knew we could do it. It’s just getting it down, doing those 12 laps as fast as we can. We did the world record in the process, but that’s a bonus. It’s all about this gold medal.”
Trott will race again on Monday and Tuesday in a bid to add an Olympic title in the women’s omnium to the world title she won in April.
“It would be nice to be double Olympic champion, wouldn’t it?” she joked, while King and Rowsell pledged to be with their teammate “all the way”.
Jason Kenny justified his selection ahead of Sir Chris Hoy for the men’s sprint by beating his teammate’s Olympic record in the timed qualifying lap before defeating South Africa’s Bernard Esterhuizen in the round of 12 to book himself a place in tomorrow’s quarter finals.
The Bolton rider will face Malaysia’s Awang Azizulhasni in the first of the four quarter finals, just before world champion, Gregory Bauge (France) faces Germany’s Robert Forstemann in the most eagerly anticipated clash.
Kenny’s opening salvo of the competition, a timed single lap to decide the seeding for the elimination rounds, not only gained him the Olympic record, but also brought him to within two-tenths of a second of the world record.
Ed Clancy finished the first day of competition in the men’s omnium fourth overall after winning the 250m time trial, finishing 11th in the 30km points race, and fifth in the elimination race.
His victory in the 250m time trial was emphatic, a task accomplished in 12.556 seconds, making him the only man to break the 13 second barrier.
An endurance rider, he limited his losses in the points race, effectively a sprint after every 10 laps, finishing in eleventh place with 18 points, some distance from the 79 points accrued by winner, Roger Kluge (Germany).
Clancy produced a gutsy, crowd pleasing performance in the elimination race to finish fifth, earning roars of approval from a partisan crowd for his well-judged runs to the line, before visibly running out of steam. The discipline was won by the Frenchman, Bryan Coquard, who easily outsprinted Italy’s Elia Viviani.
Clancy will contest the final three events of the men’s omnium: the 4km individual pursuit, the 15km scratch race, and the 1km time trial.
Kenny will face Malaysia’s Awang Azizulhasni in the first of the four quarter finals in the men’s sprint, while in the women’s sprint, Victoria Pendleton will begin the defence of the title she won in Beijing.