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Rio 2016: History made as Kristin Armstrong wins third consecutive time trial gold for USA

US rider joins speed skater Bonnie Blair as the only American women to win three gold medals in the same event at any Olympic Games

kristin
Kristin Armstrong © Graham Watson

Kristin Armstrong won her third consecutive Olympic time trial Wednesday, (10 August) her golden effort leaving her in an exhausted heap on the road at the finish line.

Kristin Armstrong takes the time trial gold for a third successive time in her career after Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 sees the US rider making history in all sorts of ways. At 42, she is the oldest woman to win gold in an individual Olympic event since 1908, when British archer Sybil Newall triumphed in the London Games aged 53.

At the same time, Armstrong has now equalled the record of three Olympic road golds held by the Netherlands’ Leontien van Moorsel, winner of both road race and time trial gold in Sydney in 2000 and then also the winner of the time trial in Athens four years later.

Having retired twice, once in 2008 to have a family – and her son Lucas watched her win yesterday – and once again in 2012 when she needed multiple hip operations, Armstrong was asked what drove her to come back and try to go for Olympic victory again. Or, as she put it herself, “When you’ve already been two times at the pinnacle of the sport, why risk coming back for the gold medal?”

“The best answer I can give is that I can. Today the stars aligned. I knew it was going to be a close race.”

At the same time, Armstrong says that she wants to be an inspiration for her five-year-old son.

“He sees me work really hard, he sees me be healthy. The first question he asked me was ‘Mama, why are you crying, didn’t you win?’ There’s another life lesson I have to teach him – why you cry when you’re happy.”

Armstrong covered the course through driving wind and rain in 44 minutes, 26.42 seconds, beating reigning bronze medalist Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia by just 5.55 seconds.

Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands added a bronze medal to her gold from the road race. Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk slid off the course, likely costing her a medal. She finished fourth.

Tenth gold for USA

The win marks the 10th gold medal for USA, and came just one day before Armstrong’s 43rd birthday. Armstrong, who was the last of the 25 cyclists to race on Wednesday morning, collapsed to the ground in tears after crossing the finish line after learning she had earned another gold medal for her country.

An elated Armstrong said after the race: “I don’t have words to describe it. When you’ve already been two times at the pinnacle of the sport, why risk coming back for the gold medal? The best answer I can give is that I can. Today the stars aligned.

“I knew it was going to be a close race. My coach said to me, ‘OK, you decide what colour medal you want to have.’ I dug so deep. To hear the national anthem on the podium, that’s my favourite part of the Olympics.”