Cycling: Heard the one about an Irishman called English who upset a Scotsman?
Hoy suffers shock defeat in sprint but Kenny takes bronze by default for only British medal of the day
Sunday 07 November 2010
Great Britain's only medal on the second day of racing at the European Track Championships was taken partly by default after Jason Kenny's rival for bronze in the individual sprint was disqualified for dangerous riding.
The Pole Damian Zielinski's exit saw Kenny move on to the podium, after abiding by a bizarre regulation which insisted that he show up at the start line despite knowing that Zielinski would not be present on the other side to compete against him.
"It was a weird feeling standing there, but given that Zielinski's Polishat least I didn't get booed," Kenny said afterwards.
"It's good to get the medal anyway, and I've got bronze in the team sprint too, so that's great. Plus I'll have a chance of a third medal tomorrow in the keirin, though I'm not holding my breath about what'll happen."
Kenny's individual victory brought Great Britain's tally to two golds, a silver and two bronzes and also deflected attention away from Sir Chris Hoy's shock first-round loss in the same event to a rider still young enough to be racing at junior level.
The undisputed star of sprint racing even before he amassed three golds in the discipline in Beijing, Hoy was put to the sword by a greenhorn Irishman – called, confusingly, Felix English – which was a defeat on the scale of, say, Italy being beaten by the Faroe Islands.
"It was something stupid, not even a tactical error, and I hope it never happens again," Hoy said afterwards. "I'll take a good few days to get my head round it all."
What added insult into injury, of course, was that Hoy's mission had looked so straightforward. The Scot had clocked the fastest time in the qualifying 200m time trial, the Irishman had been the slowest, scraping through in 24th position. Hoy even admitted that in the first round he had even thought of easing back once he knew he could win, partly to save energy and partly because "to win by 50 metres is kind of disrespectful".
Perhaps as a result of his over-confidence, having taken a huge early advantage over English, Hoy duly relaxed slightly as he approached the line – and paid a massive price, as English clawed his way back into contention, winning by over a wheel's margin.
"If you're facing a rival who's been a lot slower, then in theory it's going to be a straightforward process," Hoy explained afterwards.
"I was going at 85 per cent, got a big gap, shut it down but then at the last moment I heard him coming up behind me."
Hoy's untimely exit was not his first error in the Europeans, either: another miscalculation by the Scot the day before in the team sprint meant that Britain were ousted from the duel for gold and silver.
On that occasion, the Britons bounced back to take bronze against Poland, clocking the fastest single lap of any team in the process. After Hoy's unexpected defeat by English, however, there was no such consolation prize – just, as Hoy admitted, a lot of food for thought.
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