• Victoria Pendleton wins gold in the kierin
• Pendleton will retire after London 2012 Olympics
Moments after watching Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh and Steven Burke clock a world record three minutes 51.659 seconds to triumph by a supreme margin ahead of arch-rivals Australia, Pendleton delivered in her least favoured event.
In the race which begins behind a motorised Derny bike, the 31-year-old from Stotfold, who is set to retire after London 2012, stormed to victory. Guo Shuang of China was second, with Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong third.
The win sparked jubilant scenes from coach Jan van Eijden, British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford and head coach Shane Sutton and was Britain’s third gold medal of the track programme after Sir Chris Hoy, Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny won the men’s team sprint on day one.
It was Pendleton’s second gold after her Olympic sprint title in 2008 and continued an eventful final competition for the multiple world champion.
Along with Jess Varnish, Pendleton was eliminated from the two-woman, two-lap team sprint for a takeover infringement on day one of the track programme, leaving the duo in tears.
But Pendleton, who last won the keirin world title in 2007, responded in a women’s event brought into the Games for the first time.
World champion Anna Meares made an early move as soon as the pace-setting bike went off the track, but Pendleton accelerated from one-and-a-half laps to go and took to the front before sensationally pulling away to claim her second Olympic gold.
Meares, of Australia, was a distant fifth.
Pendleton celebrated with her fiance, Scott Gardner, a coach with British Cycling.
Her focus now turns to the individual sprint, which begins tomorrow and finishes on Tuesday’s final day of the track programme.
Pendleton said it was hard not to be distracted by the excitement which British success was causing in the velodrome.
“I can barely believe it right now,” she said. “It was really hard with the excitement of the great job the girls did qualifying with a world record and then the guys smash the world record and win a gold medal. I was just, like, ‘Focus, Vic, focus. You’ve still got a race’. But it was so hard. I can’t believe it.
“Thank you so much to everyone who’s helped me get here. The crowd have been fantastic and it really helped me today.”
Told she had produced the perfect tactical race, Pendleton said: “I think Jan [van Eijden, coach] might have something to say about that. But he said to me, ‘Don’t look for their race. Just make your own. When it’s your moment, just go’.
“My legs were good from last night and I still wanted to really show what I’ve got and it worked out okay, I guess.”
Pendleton immediately targeted another gold in tomorrow’s event.
“I’m really looking forward to the sprint,” she said. “I’ve got a good chance there.
“I’ve got to take confidence from this and come back with a vengeance.”