Jason Kenny has said that he wants to dominate the track cycling’s individual sprint after becoming Britain's first double gold medallist.
The 24-year-old beat his fiercest adversary, Gregory Bauge, 2-0 in last night’s final at an enthralled velodrome to add another title to the track pursuit he won on Thursday.
Bauge was part of the three-man team that lost that final too and the Frenchman’s consternation was the motivation behind his decision to hijack the post-race press conference last night.
The Frenchman has won seven world titles — Kenny was awarded the 2011 crown after Bauge received a back-dated suspension for doping offences — and beat him most recently in April but was unable to make an impression in their Olympic final.
Bauge duly turned inquisitor and there was a sense of resignation in his tone as he asked Kenny whether Great Britain’s emphasis on the Olympics will mean he relaxes until Brazil in four years’ time.
“No, not at all,” he replied. “The Olympics is the main one for us and the one we get the most support for. But for me, personally, I still want to win world championships — they still mean a lot for me as a rider. I’ll be going forward and hoping we’ll be battling again for top spot in the world.”
Kenny can focus on a bright future after emerging from Sir Chris Hoy’s shadow to become only the 13th Briton to have won three or more Olympic golds. Team-mate Victoria Pendleton will join that list tonight should she win the women’s sprint.
A change in the rules meant only one rider was allowed per nation at these Games and Kenny’s selection ahead of Hoy raised eyebrows among the uninitiated. In the final reckoning, Kenny’s admission he felt the weight of expectation on his shoulders is understandable.
“It is not something I had thought until the last second we went up for the very last ride and then it dawned on me that if Chris was in my shoes, there was no way that he would lose this one,” he said.
“So it was just a case of getting up there and justifying my place. I’m really pleased with the outcome and it is just a real shame that we couldn’t have both been there. It has been a really lonely three days because I’m used to working through sprint competitions with a team-mate or even two at the worlds.
“If you look back on history when it comes down to the important rides when it really matters then Chris, nine times out of ten, steps up and smokes it. That’s why he got so many medals and had so much success — he has that real killer instinct to finish a race and put it to bed when it matters.Four years is a long time so I am just enjoying this one for now.
“By the time we get to Rio, the team will be completely different again and so it is impossible to say. Mathematically, I could do it — I’m only 24 and Chris is 36 — but it is just a case of enjoying this moment and having a bit of a break before we re-evaluate and start all over again.”
Kenny’s versatility and tactical acumen were in evidence as he beat 27-year-old Bauge from behind in their first race before having the power to dominate from the front in the second.
Hoy can cement his legacy with victory in the keirin today to earn a sixth gold medal but Kenny is the future of men’s individual track cycling sprinting and it is in good hands.
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