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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil