Brit Watch: Pressure builds on Jason Kenny to justify his selection ahead of Chris Hoy with gold medal


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The Independent Online

Jason Kenny has to win gold. The man who was picked ahead of Chris Hoy, Britain's gold medal machine, for the men's sprint dare not fail to justify his selection by Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton, the men who have made the machine run so efficiently over the last decade.

There is not much Brailsford gets wrong, and this year in particular there would be nothing in the negative column. He delayed the decision on which rider would take Britain's sole place in the sprint as late as possible and it was Kenny's better world championships and his form in training that earned the younger man the place.

It will not be easy. Kenny faces perhaps the toughest challenge of all the British cycling medal hopes. In his path is Grégory Baugé, France's seven-time world champion.

Dai Greene did little on Saturday to suggest that he will be among the front runners when the medals are settled in the 400m hurdles tonight, but two strokes of good fortune – plus the pedigree of a world champion – will give him a chance of repeating his triumph in Daegu last year.

It is Greene's racing nous, his wiles and competitive spirit, that makes the Welshman impossible to ignore for the rest of the field. On form they would not even afford him a backward glance. He has not run close to his best this season and on Saturday only made it through as second fastest loser. Lucky break number two came in the draw for tonight's final as he was placed in lane three, where he can keep an eye on Javier Culson, the world No 1.

In contrast, Holly Bleasdale is the form performer going into tonight's pole vault final. She has enjoyed a rewarding season, including clearing the second highest indoor height of all time. Sergey Bubka has tipped her for a medal but to make it gold she will have overcome the greatest female vaulter the world has seen. Yelena Isinbayeva is seeking a third successive gold and looks to have put a couple of wobbly years behind her in timely fashion.

The next quick stop for the British gold rush could be Greenwich, where the team showjumping medals are settled. Britain ended day one yesterday in joint-second place. Saudi Arabia sit one point ahead of the hosts, Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden.

Paul Goodison's chances of retaining his Olympic title in the Laser class are all but gone. The Briton has been troubled by a back injury throughout the qualification races but still managed to qualify for today's medal race. He is too far adrift to hold out realistic hope of a medal. The same applies to Alison Young in the Laser Radial final.

The boxing moves into the quarter-final stage with plenty of British interest, including lightweight Natasha Jonas's next fight following her historic first win yesterday.

Britain's women's hockey players need a point from their game against the Netherlands to reach the semi-finals, while it is a last chance to see the men's basketball team, handballers and volleyball team before their Olympics end at the group stages.


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