Jason Kenny became the first Briton to win seven Olympic gold medals as he took a stunning victory in the men’s keirin final in Izu.
Kenny had complained of being out of form during the men’s sprint earlier this week but you would not have known it from the way in which he rode away from the field to win by a yawning gap of 0.763 seconds from Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia.
It also makes Kenny the first Briton to win nine Olympic medals as he adds it to the team sprint silver he took on Tuesday alongside Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens.
Kenny told the BBC: “I have been racing every race like it is my last, just trying to survive really.
“I think because I ran every race like it was a final, when I got to the final I was pretty well rehearsed. Once we rolled up in the final, for me it was carry on doing what we have been doing.
“Seven gold medals is really special, when you look back on the ones you have already got it seems pretty easy. Then when you try and get more, you remember how hard it is.
“It is easy to forget the hard work that goes into it. I have been disappointed this week, I haven’t been as competitive as I wanted to be, but in the keirins you can race hard and ride your luck a little bit.”
Perhaps Kenny’s rivals had been guilty of listening too closely to the downbeat assessment of his physical condition after he finished eighth in the individual sprint competition.
Australia’s Matthew Glaetzer let go of his wheel before the derny had even pulled off, with the others too busy looking at one another to realise that Kenny had already gone.
The 33-year-old checked over his shoulder and saw the advantage he had, charging away and building what proved to be an unassailable lead.
His team-mate Jack Carlin, who missed out on a place in the final and had just earned eight place overall, watched on open-mouthed from the track centre as Kenny simply rode alone, in a different race to the other five men on track.
Kenny had needed to go through the repechage to survive on Saturday after sitting up to finish fourth in his first-round heat, and it was Carlin, winner of individual bronze, who had looked the better bet for Britain at that point.
But it was Kenny who turned it on come Sunday, second in his quarter-final before winning the semi in which Carlin dropped out of medal contention.
Though he had already handed over his team sprint and individual sprint crowns this week, it means Kenny successfully defended the keirin title he took in Rio – and he did so at the home of the discipline in Izu, where Japan’s elite keirin school is based.
Kenny has now won gold at four consecutive Games, taking his first title in the team sprint in Beijing, before winning team and individual sprint at both London and Rio in addition to the keirin crown five years ago.
Holland’s Harrie Lavreysen – arguably the favourite after being crowned individual sprint champion on Friday – took bronze and joined Awang in holding Kenny aloft on the podium.
Kenny could have been forgiven for taking his eye off the ball in this event, with his warm-ups for the quarter-finals earlier on Sunday morning interrupted when his wife Laura crashed heavily in the opening scratch race of the women’s omnium and was slow to get up.
Though Laura recovered to win the following tempo race, her medal hopes suffered a major blow with an early exit from the elimination race and she eventually finished outside the podium places in sixth.
Laura Kenny, speaking about Jason’s performance to the BBC, said: “The amount of people who came up to me afterwards and was like: ‘I’d have counted him out of this,’ and to be honest so had I.
“I was speaking to him last night and he was like: ‘I just want to go home’. Then obviously when he won, it’s just typical Jason that.”
Jason Kenny’s gold took Britain’s cycling medal tally to 12, matching Rio and top of the charts ahead of Holland by virtue of having six golds.
Britain were down in the velodrome, winning seven here versus nine in London and 11 in Rio, but still left Izu with the most medals of any nation on the track.
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