The British cycling team can do no wrong here in Beijing. On the first night of action in the Laoshan velodrome there was one gold medal on offer and it was the British riders that took it home.
That makes two golds and a silver so far for Team GB courtesy of the cycling team, and if the individual pursuiting goes to form there?ll be even more on Saturday night.
It was an amazing show of strength all round from the British riders who seem to go faster and faster as other nations scrap among themselves for the lower placings. Tonight GB won the team sprint, becoming the first team to go under 43 second in the process, qualified fastest in the men?s pursuit, and then first and second in the women?s pursuit.
Any nation hoping the Brits wouldn?t be able to follow up their incredible performances in March at the world championships would have left severely disappointed.
If there were nerves in the British camp they would have quickly settled after the first event of the night where Jamie Staff, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy rode the fastest team sprint in history, stopping the clock at 42.950 seconds. Jamie Staff rode a stunning 17.198 second first lap before Jason Kenny posted the fastest second lap and Chris Hoy did the same for the third.
It was a shock that must have sat heavy in the hearts of the French team who have won this event nine times out of 15 at world championships, and who beat the Brits by half a second in Manchester in March.
Before today Kevin Sireau (FRA) had been confident saying the Brit?s wouldn?t be capable of going any faster here in Beijing, so to watch them take almost a second off their PB must have left him and his team mates feeling a little deflated. And despite the respect they have for Hoy, to stand there and watch him take another title must have been tough.
But if they want to worry about anyone, they should have been looking to the left of Hoy?s formidable shoulders as he stood on the podium.
For there stood a 20-year-old riding in his first Olympic Games who had just put out times faster than any of the French riders. To say that Jason Kenny is a sprinting phenomenon is doing him an injustice.
?I did my job and did the best I can do,? came the rather understated response from the Bolton lad. ?I drew strength from the people around me, from Chris and Jamie.? Of course it?s not quite so simple. riding second man in each of the three rides that were crammed in to the three-hour schedule, Kenny was straight on to Staff?s wheel every time, even with the former BMXer clocking the fastest first lap times ever seen.
?He?s perfect for the team,? said Hoy of his young team mate afterwards. ?He?s young and talented and not fazed by the pressure at all.?
But Kenny wasn?t the only youngster riding faster than ever before. Steven Burke had stepped in to ride the individual pursuit at the very last minute, but qualified fifth fastest, breaking his personal best by almost nine seconds. Here for the team pursuit, 20-year-old Burke had done no specific preparation for the individual event and was essentially making up the numbers.
Seven rounds later, and with only three riders beating Burke?s time, it was Bradley Wiggins?s turn to finally let rip and show the world what he can do. The defending champion duly stepped up and qualified fastest. He posted an Olympic record, putting almost four seconds in to second placed Hayden Roulsten (NZL). Two more rides like that and Wiggins will become the first man to successfully defend the Olympic pursuit title.
If the other nations were by now thinking ?here we go again?, there was another shock still to come from the Brits. As reigning world pursuit champion, it was no surprise that Rebecca Romero blitzed round the track in under 3-30 minutes, what was surprising was that Wendy Houvenaghel went even faster. The fact that the British coaches can get two different riders to post virtually the same time on the same day is both frightening and impressive.
First and second in the women?s pursuit qualifying round, both of them three seconds faster than their nearest rival, bodes well for the first round tomorrow. Like Wiggins, their margin of victory was so great that it?s hard to see exactly who can beat them.
The awesome British Team Sprint trio race away from the line on their way to Olympic glory.
Wendy Houvenaghel surprises her team mate Rebecca Romero to qualify fastest in the women’s individual pursuit.
Rebecca Romero pipped to first place in qualifying by compatriot Wendy Houvenaghel, but there’s nothing between the two as they go in to round one tomorrow night.
Bradley Wiggins feels the burn as he rides to an Olympic record in qualifying. Judging by his roaring in training sessions this week he had been desperate to get on with the racing.
|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: TRACK|
As it happened on Friday: Gold for team sprint trio; Wiggins, Houvenaghel and Romero well in control
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Picture special: CW takes you inside the Laoshan velodrome
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|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: NEWS|
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|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: ROAD|
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|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: GUIDE|
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