Sir Bradley Wiggins becomes Britain’s greatest Olympian

Great Britain's Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Owain Doull and Sir Bradley Wiggins won gold in the Men's Team Pursuit. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire
Great Britain's Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Owain Doull and Sir Bradley Wiggins won gold in the Men's Team Pursuit. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire
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Great Britain last night won men’s team pursuit gold – giving Sir Bradley Wiggins a fifth Olympic gold and a British record eighth medal in all.

Britain’s Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Owain Doull and Wiggins clocked a world record of three minutes 50.570 seconds in the first round of the four-man, four-kilometres event.

Sir Bradley Wiggins reacts to victory in the Men's Team Pursuit final. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Sir Bradley Wiggins reacts to victory in the Men's Team Pursuit final. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Australia advanced to the final while keeping Jack Bobridge in reserve, having so far not shown their full hand. And the perennial rivals – Australia won March’s world title ahead of Britain – slugged it out for gold.

Britain were trailing until 500m to go, when a huge roar erupted from the numerous Britons in the crowd. And Britain surged on to win gold in another world record of 3mins 50.265secs.

Australia’s Alex Edmondson, Michael Hepburn, Sam Welsford and Bobridge clocked 3mins 51.008secs.

An elated Wiggins said afterwards: “It’s hard not to just spout a load of cliches and emotional stuff.

“The last six months we’ve done everything together, all for this. We’re here and we’ve done it.

“These four guys here, I would never have come back if we didn’t have the calibre. When you’re with guys like that on the line, it makes your job a hell of a lot easier.

“I kept it all in check, went through to process, one step at a time, not thinking about gold. And that’s hard, when all your team-mates are winning gold in front of you. Just fantastic.”

Callum Skinner, meanwhile, admits he’s got a real taste for medals after he stormed through his qualifying rounds in the men’s sprint in Rio.

Skinner put in a massive shift to anchor Great Britain to team sprint gold on Thursday night and clearly is in the form of his life.

The 23-year-old Scot smashed defending champion Jason Kenny’s Olympic record from London 2012 in qualifying, stopping the clock at just 9.703 seconds for the 200m 
flying lap.

But team-mate Kenny – increasingly looking Skinner’s most likely rival for individual gold – snatched it straight back as the British pair made it through qualifying as first and second quickest in the 27-strong field.

Kenny then beat Germany’s Maximilian Levy in his first round head-to-head while Skinner got his tactics spot on to dispatch Australia’s Patrick Constable.

Both now go into today’s next round brimming with confidence.

Kenny won gold at the World Championships in London earlier this year but Skinner lost to eventual bronze medallist, Russia’s Denis Dmitriev, in the quarter-finals to finish eighth. But the improvements made since March are the talk of the velodrome and Skinner and Kenny are clearly ones to beat.

With the form Kenny has demonstrated, it is not beyond the realms of possibility to imagine him repeating Sir Chris Hoy’s feat of winning three Olympic golds in one Games.

That would see Kenny – who is exactly 12 years younger than Hoy, who is also born on 23 March – take his tally to six gold medals and one silver. That would be the same as Hoy’s.

The 28-year-old from Bolton said after the team event: “I’m just enjoying this one for now. The team event is always the best. You get to win it with your mates.

“It’s a bit lonely winning on your own to be honest.”