Laura Trott proves worthy of Victoria Pendleton's crown for Team GB
Even as Vicky Pendleton's reign as Britain's - and the world's - top track racer entered its very last phase, Laura Trott, 11 years her junior, both doubled her London gold medal total in the women's Omnium today and, in the process laid claim to Pendleton's soon-to-be vacant throne.
Initially targetting Rio 2016, Trott has outpaced her planned schedule by a mere four years first to form part of the triumphant women's team pursuit squad on Friday and then to shine equally brilliantly on an individual level four days later.
If a triumph at such a young age is relatively rare in cycling, Trott has always been a precocious sort of talent. Whilst a keen trampolinist at school, Trott began concentrating on cycling in her late teens and picked up a European Championship track title in 2010 before becoming the youngest Commonwealth Games participant later than year - where she raced alongside her sister Emma, a professinoal bike racer.
Today, though, the glory was all hers. In a thrilling ding-dong battle against American Sarah Hammer, the Briton finished in first place in the final two lap individual time trial, thereby claiming Team GB's sixth track gold out of eight completed events, ahead of Hammer with Australia's Annette Edmondson in bronze.
Whilst GB team-mate and male team pursuiter Ed Clancy described his bronze medal in the men's Omnium on Sunday as a bonus that came despite specific preparation for the previous event, Trott's triumph in this new multidisciplined race was a far steadier, more planned affair.
Crowned Omnium World Champion in Melbourne in 2012, the 20-year-old was leading after three of the six rounds, winning the opening flying lap event and then taking the elimination - her strongest suit - on Monday night with her usual mixture of cannily timed accelerations and always, somehow, managing to be in the exactly right place at the right time.
However, the Individual Pursuit, event number four, represented both a step forward - in that she moved up a spot compared with her performance in Melbourne, to second - and a step back, in that her strongest rival, Hammer, finished first and claimed the overall lead, albeit by just one point.
With a medal now all but guaranteed but Hammer, the bronze medallist in the Worlds' Omnium, clearly her top threat, the scratch race - event number five, decided by the first rider across the line - became crucial.
First Trott put Hammer under pressure with several digs whilst the American, inexplicably, sat at the back, it was then Hammer's turn to surge forward. After Trott neutralised that move, and the race edged towards a bunch sprint decider, a final long surge then netted Hammer a second place just in front of Trott, and doubled her advantage on the Briton.
And so it came down to the final event, with journalists frantically calculating the two top contenders overall time totals - which would have decided the event in the case of a draw on places. As winner of the 500 metre time trial event in Melbourne, Trott was the favourite, but Hammer's shadowing of the young Briton so closely dramatically increased the tension.
However, Trott's formidable time trialling capacitiies, honed to a maximum in her team pursuiting, served her perfectly.
After each half-laps, whilst Hammer faded to fourth and a silver medal ahead of Australia's Annette Edmondson and GB women's pursuit team coach (and former team pursuit gold medallist) Paul Manning shouted himself hoarse from the line - Trott continued to forge onwards towards gold, and the first track medal for GB on this last night of velodrome racing. Not to mention a confirmation that if Pendleton is shortly no longer to be present with us, Trott seems more than ready to fill her place.
Arsenal transfer latest: Arsene Wenger set to sign...no one on transfer deadline day as manager heads to Rome to referee charity match
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal offloads fringe players as he looks to the long term
Radamel Falcao transfer latest: Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City linked with blockbuster move
Tottenham to offer Andros Townsend to Southampton in £14m deadline day bid for Jay Rodriguez
Tottenham vs Liverpool player ratings: Who was the star man? Raheem Sterling? Alberto Moreno? Or new-boy Mario Balotelli?
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
- 5 Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain