Jason Kenny set a new flying 200m Olympic record of 9.713 seconds to kick off the men’s sprint competition that is sadly lacking in quality.
Current world champion Gregory Bauge (France) is here, as is Robert Forstemann (Germany) and Shane Perkins (Australia); but those four are the only genuine contenders for this competition.
The reason behind the lack of world class riders is a new rule brought in by the sports governing body the UCI. When they announced the new track schedule – that removed the individual pursuit, points race and madison, introduced the women’s team sprint and keirin and the omnium for both men and women – they also changed the rules for the sprint competitions meaning each nation could only enter one rider.
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So no Sir Chris Hoy, no Kevin Sireau (france), no Maximillian Levy (Australia). When the rule change came in, Hoy himself said that the Olympic gold would be easier to win than a world title.
18 riders were meant to ride the morning qualifying round, but the Netherlands pulled out their sprinter some weeks ago, meaning only 17 riders set a flying 200m qualifying time. All the riders went through to the following 1/16 finals, ranked by their times. It meant Jason Kenny, as the fastest rider received a bye in the first round.
Bauge also recieved a bye when 17th placed rider Zafeirios Volikakis of Greece left the velodrome believing only the first 16 riders went through to the 1/16 finals. His coaches pleaded with the judges to wait until they had brought him back, but they didn’t allow it. His Olympics last just 10.663 seconds.
Both Kenny and Bauge still had to take to the start line and roll round half a lap of the track in order to go through, raising a bemused round of appluase from the crowd.
Defending champion Sir Chris Hoy was watching the sprint qualifying from the Athletes’ Village, and before Kenny’s ride tweeted: “Men’s 200m tt on now. Ok.. I’m going to stick my neck out and say it’ll be won in a new Olympic Record with 9.71. By Jason.”
Having got it spot on, he then posted: “Next up: this week’s lottery numbers…”
The sprint competition runs over three days, finishing on Monday.
In the first round of the men’s omnium saw Ed Clancy come out on top, winning the flying lap with an impressive time of 12.556, half a second faster than Shane Archibold (New Zealand) in second place. GB sprint coach Iain Dyer later tweeted to say that over the 200m Ed’s time was 10.04 seconds, which would have placed him fourth in sprint qualifying, ahead of Robert Forstemann.
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