Kenny justifies selectors’ faith with historic sprint triumph

Bolton rider beats Baugé to become first British male athlete to win two golds at last two Games

Stratford Velodrome

So Dave Brailsford and the GB track team selection committee were right: Jason Kenny proved their decision to make the Bolton rider Britain’s sole match sprint participant - replacing defending Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy -  100 percent correct as the 24-year-old outpowered and outwitted top favourite Gregory Baugé in two straight rounds to net Britain’s fourth gold from seven track events. Australia’s Shane Perkins claimed bronze.

Ever since Kenny had been selected ahead of Sir Chris Hoy in June, the wisdom of the decision - forced on the British after the IOC decreed that only one athlete could represent the country at individual events -  had naturally been scrutinised. Quite apart from depriving Hoy of a chance to repeat his historic triple Beijing gold on home soil, the Scot  had had the better of Kenny in the 2008 Olympic sprint finals.

The pendulum swung first one way then the other  between the Scot and the Englishman in the battle for London’s single place. Finally Kenny, 12 years Hoy’s junior, was selected after he defeated his GB team-mate in the Melbourne World Championships this April. And had Kenny lost, however, the questions over the wisdom decision would rushed back.

Instead as the British cycling gold medal juggernaut rolls remorselessly onwards, Kenny has now secured Britain’s ninth cycling medal of the 2012 Games, and their fifth gold out of seven track events so far.  Add in Bradley Wiggins triumph from the men’s time trial, with three events remaining in which GB are firm favourites,  Beijing’s once seemingly unbeatable total of eight cycling golds could well be passed tomorrow.

As if that was not enough, Kenny’s personal total of three golds and a silver makes him the eighth most successful British Olympian in history - and the first British male athlete to gain two medals in both the 2008 and 2012 Games.

And yet his quietly spoken, utterly laidback personality off the track, makes him almost successful by stealth. He certainly shuns the limelight, telling The Independent in 2008 that he liked it that “because Chris and Victoria Pendleton are so high-profile, my phone’s not falling off the wall.”. Meeting the famous is certainly not high on his list of priorities: in 2008, he blew out a collective Team GB appointment with then Premier Gordon Brown because he had had a cold and wanted to continue training. Even back then, though, Hoy had predicted that Kenny would be ‘the rider to beat in London.”

Kenny and Baugé have a huge shared history, given that Baugé has been three times World Champion since 2009, but had to hand his 2011 title to Kenny, three years his junior, after missing doping controls. On top of that, in 2008, Baugé defeated Kenny as part of the World Championships team sprint, before losing to Great Britain in the same event both four years ago  - and again last Friday.

As if that were not enough, Baugé defeated Kenny in this year’s World Championships in two straight rounds, but only after the Briton was disqualified.

Since then Kenny has gained in strength, both winning the gold medal in the team sprint, then clocking the fastest qualifier. And as rival after rival either lost out to Kenny’s brutal accelerations or Baugé’s sustained long drives, it was clear that another showdown between the two top sprinters.

Kenny’s first round against the Frenchman saw Baugé leading from the front on the first lap, inching round. However despite taking the longest possible of sprints - over a lap and a half- the Frenchman could not prevent Kenny’s sustained charge seeing the the rider from Bolton hurtle past him on the back straight and take victory by over a wheel. Curiously enough, this was exactly the same way he had beaten Sir Chris Hoy in the semi-finals second round in Melbourne - the ride that effectively gained Kenny his ticket for London.

Round two was an different, with Kenny edging ahead and never letting Baugé - who swung left, right, sped up then eased back - get ahead. Pounding round the final lap, the huge grin as he churned the pedals one last time made it clear that Kenny knew he had taken another huge step into the Olympic history books. And at 24, there will surely be so much more to come.

Meanwhile Laura Trott is strongly positioned to claim Britain’s seventh track medal, lying first after three rounds. The Olympic gold medallist in the women’s team pursuit inched ahead - literally - in the opening leg of the Women’s Omnium, which she won by a thousandth of a second over France’s Clara Sanchez. However in the points race, close marking between herself and Australian favourite Annette Edmondson, who took silver behind the Briton in the 2012 World Championships, led to Trott to lose out America’s Sarah Hammer, another top contender. Whilst Hammer sped away from the pack to claim an extra lap, Trott was forced to settle for tenth, dropping to third overall.

In the elimination event, however, which Trott won in both the World Cup round in Stratford this February and again in Australia, the 20-year-old from Cheshunt delivered her usual ingenious tactics to clinch a superbly calculated victory that saw her back at the top rank of the overall classification. Lying just behind the leaders, sneaking through the tiniest of gaps at the back of the pack to avoid elimination, it was nerve-wracking, spell-binding stuff - and it could see her take gold tomorrow night.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
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

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape