There are few tougher jobs at Rio 2016 than the one Callum Skinner had on Thursday – filling an Olympic saddle previously occupied by Sir Chris Hoy.
But the young pretender to the throne kicked off his own Olympic career with team sprint gold and hopes that with it he has carved out his own piece of history.
There is a long way for Skinner to go to match Hoy’s incredible feat of six golds and one silver medal on the Olympic stage.
But this was a good start, the 22-year-old joining forces with Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes and immediately setting a new Olympic record with a time of 42.562 seconds in qualifying.
It didn’t last long though as New Zealand dropped the time to 63.535 in beating Germany and setting up a final with Skinner and co, with Great Britain comfortably beating Venezuela in their final-four clash.
But Great Britain got their revenge as they belied their sixth-place finish from the World Championships back in March and pipped the Kiwis – who won gold five months ago – to the line by 0.102 seconds.
One down, six to go for Skinner who was born in Glasgow and raised in Edinburgh.
“The comparisons are really flattering to hear,” he said, “Kian Emadi had a go at it [taking Hoy’s role] and did a pretty good job and even Ed Clancy has had a go at it in the past.
“I didn’t feel like I was the next guy to take over but obviously there are a few comparisons as well with Chris being Scottish.
“People say it is pressure but I am just out to make a name for myself and any comparisons are really flattering.
“I am just out there to do my best and make a name for myself.”
That wasn’t the only reason for Scottish cyclists to cheer in the Olympic velodrome as the track cycling action got underway with Katie Archibald helping Great Britain’s women’s pursuit team set a new world record in qualifying.
Archibald and co announced their arrival in Rio in fantastic fashion by smashing rivals Australia’s 18-month-old world best as Archibald, Laura Trott, Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell-Shand clocked 4:19.059 minutes.
That made them the fastest qualifiers by over a second and they will now meet Canada in Saturday’s first round – which is effectively a semi-final – with the winner advancing to the final.
“I am not going to start counting medals before they are raced,” head coach Iain Dyer said of Archibald and co.
“There are no dead certs so we will need to continue to be focused and make sure we are execute and deliver the plan from here on out.”
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