Jason Kenny and Simon Yates world title success
THREE-TIME Olympic champion Jason Kenny took inspiration from watching World Track Championships debutant Simon Yates win gold before climbing to the top of the podium himself with a sensational ride in Minsk last night.
After 20-year-old Yates won the points race, his fellow Lancastrian Kenny put an indifferent performance through the rounds behind him to win the men’s keirin title Sir Chris Hoy had dominated in recent years.
“Once you’ve heard the national anthem, seen the flag go up, that’s what we race for, that’s what we want to see every time we get on the bike,” Kenny said. “It was harder watching that points race than it was riding the final. That was impressive and again it was right down at the death when he took it.”
Kenny’s triumph required good fortune and a change of gear ahead of the final.
The 24-year-old from Bolton described his first-round performance as “pathetic”, won his repechage heat to go through to the semi-final and then advanced to the final only after Francois Pervis of France was relegated for impeding the Briton.
Kenny, boyfriend of Laura Trott, who was part of the victorious women’s team pursuit squad on Thursday, found his form and his speed when it mattered, though. He was second entering the final lap and rounded Maximilian Levy to triumph. The German was second, with Dutchman Matthijs Buchli third.
“It was a dream ride. I couldn’t have written it any better if I’d tried,” Kenny said. “A little bit of good fortune, getting on Levy’s wheel. It’s good to be in that position and take my opportunity. Luckily I just had a little bit in the tank to roll him when it mattered, at the very death.” Curiously Kenny has more gold medals from the quadrennial Olympics than the annual Track World Championships, having won team sprint titles in 2008 and 2012, when he also won sprint gold.
It was Kenny’s second World Championships title, but first won on the bike after the 2011 sprint crown was awarded retrospectively when Gregory Bauge was stripped of the prize for an anti-doping infringement.
The win was all the more delightful for Kenny after Britain finished only sixth in the men’s team sprint on the opening day. Kenny, whose attentions now turn to the individual sprint, said: “There was a big disappointment on Wednesday. It hit the team really hard. It wasn’t unrealistic that we could’ve been on the top step of the podium. So it’s nice to come back and get there myself. It would’ve been so much better if the boys could be here too, but that’s just sport.”
If Kenny is anticipated to challenge for world titles – Trott tweeted she was the “happiest girlfriend in the world” – there were no such expectations placed on Yates. The Bury rider delivered, though, riding maturely throughout the 160-lap (40-kilometre) points race, which features 16 sprints, to claim a sensational victory in an event which could return to the Olympics in 2016. He accumulated 35 points, to win by one from Eloy Teruel Rovira of Spain, with Russia’s Kirill Sveshnikov third on 30 points. Yates was in contention throughout but made his move late and claimed a crucial three points in the final sprint to claim the title.
“It worked out perfectly,” Yates said. “I’d like to say I rode it quite clever. It all fell my way. I saved my energy and luckily I had it in the end.”
The double success on day three means Britain already have more gold medals than four years ago in Pruszkow in the World Championships which followed the Beijing Olympics. Two days of competition remain, with Becky James well-placed to add to the haul in the women’s sprint. The 21-year-old from Abergavenny, who has won bronzes in the team sprint and 500metres time-trial, was fastest qualifier and made serene progress to the sprint semi-finals, where she will meet Guo Shuang of China.
Kenny, Matt Crampton and Philip Hindes ride in the early rounds of the men’s sprint on day four and Trott begins her omnium campaign. At the halfway stage of the corresponding men’s event, Jon Dibben is out of medal contention in 11th, while Dani King was fifth and Ireland’s Caroline Ryan sixth in the women’s scratch race.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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