Team GB have enjoyed another golden day at the Olympic velodrome.
Victoria Pendleton won the women’s keirin, while the men’s team pursuit squad delivered an emphatic victory over Australia to beat their closest rivals with a world record time.
Their victories mean that all medals won on the track so far have been gold, following the men’s team sprint triumph yesterday.
More golds may come tomorrow when the women’s team pursuit final will be held. Team GB’s squad today qualified with a world record time.
Pendleton had bravely faced the media yesterday after her eagerness to begin her lap in the women’s team sprint semi-final caused her to ‘overlap’ partner, Jess Varnish, leading to the pair’s disqualification after they had set a world record in an earlier heat.
But there were no mistakes in today’s keirin, perhaps the event in which she was least fancied for success. A former double world champion in the discipline, her more recent success had come in the match and team sprints.
Today she overcame a quality field, including arch-rival, Anna Meares (Australia), who was the first to attack, moving from fifth to first as the derny bike peeled off the track.
Pendleton responded on the back straight, powering from fourth to first as she crossed the line for the final lap. Only Shuang Guo could live with Pendleton’s pace, but the Briton’s victory was clear enough as she crossed the line almost a wheel ahead of the Chinese rider.
Pendleton said: “I can barely believe it right now. It’s really hard with the excitement. What a great job the girls did, qualifying with a world record [Great Britain’s women’s team pursuit squad], then the guys smash the world record and win a gold medal [Great Britain’s men’s team pursuit squad]. I was thinking, ‘Focus Vic, focus. You’ve still got to race.’ It was so hard. I can’t believe it.
“Jan [van Eijden – British Cycling coach] said to me, ‘Don’t look for their race, just make your own. When it’s your moment, just go.’ I knew my legs were still good from last night, and I wanted to show what I’ve got and it worked out ok.”
Pendelton thanked her support team and the crowd, whom she described as “fantastic” and said had helped her to victory.
Men’s team pursuit
Steven Burke told RCUK in June that a world record would be required for the gold medal at the Games, and he and teammates Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, and Peter Kennaugh duly delivered, lowering the record they set in yesterday’s time trial qualifying round to 3.51.659.
Their achievement today was achieved with the pressure of another team on the track, their closest rivals, Australia, with whom Clancy had anticipated a ‘dogfight’ that could be decided by as little as one-tenth of a second. The reality was closer to a walkover, with Great Britain finishing nearly three seconds ahead of the team they had beaten to win the world title in April.
Speaking moments before collecting his medal, Thomas said: “In November, we were at the track at 7.30 in the morning. They stopped us going to see a Rhianna concert in November. They’ve just been on our backs since then. It’s been full on.
“To finish it off, it’s amazing. I’ve been ill last week and I struggled to get back to where I was. Without these boys, I couldn’t have done it. They were superb. We all buzz of each other.”
He described the support from the capacity crowd in the velodrome as “incredible”.
“My ears are ringing. It’s too loud!” he joked.
New Zealand won the bronze medal after beating Russia in the ‘B’ final.
Women’s team pursuit
The Great British trio of Jo Rowsell, Dani King, and Laura Trott, set a new world record of 3.15.669 in qualifying this evening for the women’s team pursuit heats tomorrow.
The home nation’s time was nearly four seconds faster than that of the next fastest qualifiers, the USA, who posted a time of 3.19.406. Australia qualified third with 3.19.719.
Action returns to the track at 10am tomorow when the first day of qualifying for the men’s sprint begins for Jason Kenny. Clancy will begin his omnium campaign 30 minutes later.
At 4.11pm, Rowsell, King, and Trott will return to the track to contest the heats, and, if today’s form is an indication, the final of the women’s team pursuit.