GLASGOW’S Callum Skinner will go head-to-head with his room-mate Jason Kenny in the final of the track cycling men’s sprint tonight.
The all-British showdown encapsulates Team GB’s dominance of the Olympic Velodrome yet again after a third gold medal and a silver were won yesterday and a fourth was guaranteed for this evening.
Kenny watched fiancee Laura Trott become Britain’s most successful female Olympian with her third gold medal in winning the women’s team pursuit alongside Joanna Rowsell-Shand, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald.
The 28-year-old from Bolton has experience of battling a Scottish room-mate for gold after doing the same against Sir Chris Hoy and coming off second best in Beijing eight years ago.
He will be the one looking to put the younger man in his place tonight but Skinner was the more impressive qualifier for the gold medal race and it should be a mouth-watering duel at just after 9pm tonight.
Kenny and Skinner were team sprint champions together with Phil Hindes on Thursday. The Englishman won the selection nod ahead of Hoy four years ago when the competition was limited to one rider per nation and claimed gold.
Two riders are now permitted again and Kenny and Skinner qualified in first and second place before making strong progress to the semi-finals.
Kenny needed all three bouts to beat Denis Dmitriev of Russia 2-1, while Skinner beat Australia’s Matthew Glaetzer 2-0 to advance.
Beck in business
Becky James won Keirin silver, little more than a year after returning from a career-threatening knee injury.
James produced a thrilling final lap to finish second behind Holland’s Elis Ligtlee. Australia’s Anna Meares ended up with bronze.
Since winning sprint and Keirin world titles in Minsk in 2013, James had a cancer scare and a knee injury which left her unable to ride a bike for fourth months.
The 24-year-old from Abergavenny, whose boyfriend is Wales and British and Irish Lions rugby player George North, advanced in supreme fashion by winning her heat and was even more impressive in the second round, following Meares into the final.
She was bidding to succeed London 2012 winner Pendleton as champion but began the final lap in sixth and last place.
She followed the instruction of coach Jan van Eijden to go round high up the outside and powered round the final bend into the medal positions. She might have won, but ran out of track.
James said: “It was a pretty frustrating race. I left it as late as I could.
“I didn’t think I was going to get anywhere near round. I could have done with an extra couple of metres, but I’m absolutely thrilled with that medal.
“To think where I was a year ago from now to where I am now, I would never have imagined it.”
James has another opportunity in the sprint, which begins today and concludes on Tuesday, while Mark Cavendish’s six-discipline, two-day omnium campaign also starts on today.
The dominance of Britain in Rio has echoes of Beijing, where seven of 10 track titles were won. The feat was repeated at London 2012.
They will have four golds and one silver from six medal events by this evening, having taken part in five of them.
Failing to qualify for the women’s team sprint was the catalyst for the resignation of technical director Shane Sutton in April following a string of discrimination allegations which he denies.
But there is no denying Britain’s riders have put the controversy behind them to rise to the occasion in Rio.