Men’s team sprint gold caps great start to cycling track for British riders
Great Britain also broke the world record in the women’s team pursuit and qualified first in the men’s team pursuit
The difference between the Great Britain and New Zealand men’s team sprint squads was inseparable to the naked eye.
The peloton raced around the track at the Rio Olympic Velodrome as a crowd primarily made up of British and New Zealand fans waved their flags. Each passing time mark brought a minuscule margin and louder cheers.
The intensity ramped up as the riders approached the finish line. Great Britain’s Callum Skinner crossed the line at nearly the same time New Zealand’s Ed Dawkins crossed the line halfway around the track.
“We were outsiders”
A gap of 0.102 seconds in favor of Great Britain flashed across the screens at either end. The British fans let up a roar and waved their Union Jack flags as their team closed the first day of cycling track with a gold medal on Thursday (11 August).
“We were outsiders,” Skinner said. “We just put everything on the final. After the world championships, we worked hard to bring it all together for the Games. We’re very happy.”
The gold medal win capped off a nearly perfect day for the British.
Just over an hour earlier, the Great Britain women brought the pro-British crowd to its feet with a world-record time of 4:13:260 in the women’s team pursuit. The team, consisting of Katie Archibald, Laura Trott, Elinor Barker and Joanna Roswell-Shand stayed above the world record pace set by Australia earlier this year.
Great Britain will be joined in the next round by the United States, who just fell short of matching the British’s mark, Australia and Canada as the only teams with a shot to win a gold or silver medal.
The men kept the party going for the British in the men’s team pursuit. The team, led by Sir Bradley Wiggins, kept pace with their world-record pace from the 2012 Olympic Games for the first 3000 metres before crossing the line just over 0.3 seconds behind the record.
Great Britain, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand all finished the qualifying round with a chance to earn a gold or silver medal after finishing in the top four.
But those were just the appetizers before the men’s team sprint main course.
Great Britain and New Zealand, who were separated by just 0.005 seconds in the previous round, struggled to find separation early on. The British jumped out to a 0.035 second lead after the first lap, but the Kiwis would not go away, keeping the deficit to within 0.1 seconds after the second lap.
But Skinner made sure the British would be the ones celebrating, powering his way around the track by himself to get across the line in first.
“We left it on the track, and unbelievably it was enough to win the gold,” Jason Kenny said. “We can’t win the bloody worlds to save our lives, but we win the Olympics every time.”
France came from behind to edge out Australia for the bronze medal.
The second day of cycling track action gets under way at 4pm with the women’s team sprint qualifying round. Medals will be awarded for the women’s team sprint and men’s team pursuit.