From tears of despair to tears of joy in 24 hours

After the agony of disqualification, the  ecstasy of gold in the keirin for Pendleton

the Velodrome

British track queen Vicky Pendleton put all the pain of her relegation from Thursday's women's team sprint behind her yesterday – as well as what she called a disastrous 2011 – with a blisteringly faultless ride to victory in the keirin here last night.

Theoretically on the back foot after she and GB team-mate Jess Varnish were kicked out of the team sprint for a faulty changeover, and following her uneven 2011 season, Pendleton was a woman on a double comeback mission yesterday.

But if Thursday's exclusion cost her at least a silver medal in one track discipline, then yesterday there was no way gold in the keirin was going to escape Pendleton on what is her Olympic track swansong.

Appropriately for a figure considered to be sprinting royalty, Pendleton clinched her first Olympic gold of London 2012 – and a second in the individual sprint, where she took gold in Beijing, is perhaps yet to come – in imperious style, leading from the front for the whole of the last lap in the final.

Only Guo Shuang, the Chinese former world champion, could come close as the Briton tore round the final bend towards the finish, but at the sight of her rival shadowing her on her right, Pendleton upped the pace yet further for her second Olympic gold in four years, winning by just over half a wheel. Hong Kong's Wai Lee took bronze.

Fighting back the tears, Pendleton said afterwards: "This is the greatest moment in my career so far. I think a lot of people kind of wrote me off after 2011. I had a really rubbish year. Injury, personal issues, family issues, a lot of things that just nearly made me give up. A lot of people thought I had passed my best and I just wanted to prove them wrong, so this does feel pretty good."

Discussing the team sprint relegation and how it had affected her when she and Varnish had delivered a world-record performance and had been in sight of a medal, Pendleton said: "All I did was take the fact that my form yesterday was excellent – I was by far the fastest second lap [in the team sprint] here.

"It was a personal best from me in both rides, so I knew my legs were the best they have ever been in my entire life, so how could I not come into this [keirin] and really give it a great shot. Because I owed it to myself to just get stuck in."

This was more than just a triumph after Thursday's potentially devastating setback, too. On paper this track discipline was Pendleton's weakest suit, given she had finished 12th in the 2012 World Championships keirin and last won the world title outright back in 2007.

But Anna Meares, her arch-rival from Australia, but who could only manage fifith in the finale, had predicted Pendleton was going "to be absolutely livid" following that team sprint expulsion and it was clearly a very effective motivator.

Between each of the first two rounds, taken with perfectly timed accelerations in the final laps, there was only the briefest of waves at the crowd acknowledgement of her victories, and certainly no trace of a smile. This was Pendleton at her most ruthless – and the result was a spellbinding series of triumphs that left her rivals with no options.

With two former and one reigning world champion in the final – Pendleton, Meares, Guo and France's Clara Sanchez – and so much to gain, the Briton had a battle royale on her hands. But her superb final acceleration in the last lap, taking the race by the scruff of the neck and then holding on despite Guo's late challenge, provided the ideal answer.

Then, at last came the smiles, the hugs with her coach and the Union Jack draped around Pendleton's shoulders. It was a victory and a double comeback of majestic proportions and with the individual sprint, which she has dominated for the last 10 years, still to come, Pendleton's Olympic swansong is back on track with a vengeance.

Velodrome: All the action and what's still to come

Thursday

Disappointment followed by joy as the GB men win gold in team sprint, but the women are disqualified.

Yesterday

The British men's team smashed the world record in the pursuit, Victoria Pendleton powered to victory in the women's keirin.

Today

Ed Clancy carries British hopes in the first ever Olympic men's omnium – it concludes tomorrow – and the women's team pursuit final is at 5.42pm.

Tomorrow

Rivals Victoria Pendleton and Australia's Anna Meares meet again in the women's sprint heats.

Monday

The semi-finals and finals of the men's sprint get underway from 4pm, with Jason Kenny chosen instead of Sir Chris Hoy.

Tuesday

Hoy goes in search of a record sixth gold in the men's keirin, and the women's omnium finishes. The final of the women's sprint takes place at 5.26pm.

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum