Cycling salutes King Kenny – Britain's new lord of the track

Jason Kenny justifies selection over Chris Hoy to win his second gold of the Games – and Team GB's fifth in the velodrome

Of all Team GB's galaxy of cycling demigods, Jason Kenny was always going to have the hardest task. After taking the place of the knight of the realm and national treasure Sir Chris Hoy in the individual sprint, nothing less than gold in London was acceptable.

And so it was. In the most emphatic fashion. Pursued by that trademark roar from the home crowd that has powered Britain's riders to glory in the Olympic Park's velodrome, the 24-year-old from Bolton last night dominated his great French rival, Gregory Baugé, to take the great prize: the men's sprint.

Team GB now has five golds and one bronze in track cycling. If they were a country, they would be 10th in the Olympic medals table – ahead of Germany and Russia.

Kenny, who won gold with Sir Chris in the four-strong men's pursuit team last week with a world record, outsmarted Baugé in two fiercely tactical and physical races, winning with one of the three contests to spare.

Speaking moments after his remarkable victory over a rider he has previously struggled to outclass, the Briton said: "It's amazing. I hadn't even thought about it until the last round and it dawned on me. I did it for the team. We were really close and he's been faster at the Worlds [championships]. I like racing against Baugé."

Kenny, who took silver behind Hoy in the sprint event in Beijing, was selected to replace Britain's most successful Olympian by the grey eminences of Team GB's track cycling team, Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton, after a change to Olympic rules meant that only one rider per nation could be entered in the event.

Kenny was picked on the basis of his form in training and his performance in the cycling world championships, despite being beaten by his nemesis, Baugé, whose technical proficiency means that he is known in his homeland as L'Automaton Fantastique.

Last night, there was no bitterness from Hoy, who broke his self-imposed Twitter purdah to congratulate his teammate. He tweeted: "I know I said I was off Twitter but that was PHENOMENAL by Jason Kenny. So happy and proud of him, well deserved mate."

Speaking before the race, Kenny's father, Michael, said: "It's going to be so tense for the whole family. We never get used to situations like these and it's probably more nerve-racking for us. He never discusses where he might finish and I don't want to make predictions either."

He need not have worried.

Kenny took the first race of the final in a tense battle of cat and mouse, riding the steep banks of the velodrome before sweeping down alongside the Frenchman to take the race by roughly the width of his eventual gold medal. The Briton then rode to victory in the second race, breaking into a sprint with a lap to go which Baugé simply could not better.

Earlier, Victoria Pendleton, on her penultimate appearance in competitive racing, dominated her quarter final in the women's sprint against Belarusian Olga Panarina, en route to a showdown with her great Australian rival, Anna Meares.

Pendleton, 31, who is retiring after the London Games, was in imperious form, sweeping past her opponent in the first two of the three-race contest. She races in the semi-final – and a likely final – today.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before