Olympics cycling: Sir Chris Hoy proud to delight home crowd

 

Sir Chris Hoy expressed his "immense pride" at becoming an Olympic champion for the fifth time following his victory in the team sprint on Thursday.

A superb final lap helped Great Britain win gold in a world record time.

"It's just great to win here in the UK, in front of this crowd," he said. "You cannot overstate what this means. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

The victory in the London Velodrome means the Scot, 36, matched the British medal record of Sir Steve Redgrave.

Olympics cycling: GB men win team sprint gold

The rowing great also won five gold medals, albeit at five different Games, from Los Angeles in 1984 to Sydney in 2000.

In fact, if Hoy and Redgrave were ranked on a medal table, the Scot would pip the Englishman thanks to the silver medal he won in the team sprint in 2000, beating the oarsman's coxed-pair bronze from 1988.

But Hoy remained modest after his latest demonstration of awe-inspiring power on the track.

"No-one will ever beat Steve in real terms. I mean, to win five consecutive gold medals," he said.

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We kept everything really tight and just went through the motions. It's great, isn't it?

Jason Kenny

"I have experienced what it is to do four Games, I have no idea what it would be like to do another four years.

"There is no way I'll be back in Rio."

Despite there being no chance of a fifth Olympics, there could yet be a sixth gold medal for the most successful sprinter in track cycling history.

Not selected for the individual sprint, the Edinburgh-born star cannot repeat his three-gold display from 2008 Beijing, but he does have until Tuesday to prepare for the defence of his keirin title.

Hoy only started riding the event when the 1km time trial, his favourite, was dropped from the Olympic programme after the 2004 Games.

Invented in Japan, the keirin sees six to eight competitors ride behind a small motorbike for three laps, before the bike gets out of the way to let the riders dash around two-and-a-half more laps in a charge to the line.

Englishman Bradley Wiggins, who won his seventh Olympic medal in the road time trial on Wednesday, said he fully expected Hoy to match that total - and few will bet against it now.

There will also be very high hopes of the entire British team repeating - or at least getting close to - the remarkable success it achieved in Beijing, where it took seven of the nine golds on offer.

The British team sprint trio of Hoy, Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny were a class apart on Thursday.

They beat Germany in the qualifying round in an Olympic-record time, then thrashed Japan in the semis in a new world best.

GB trio 'overwhelmed' by cycling gold

But that record lasted little more than an hour, as Team GB shaved off another 0.147 seconds in the final against France to set a new mark of 42.600 seconds - an average speed of more than 39mph.

"I cannot believe how quickly we have gone around today," said 24-year-old Kenny, who won this title in Beijing alongside Hoy and the now-retired Jamie Staff.

"We kept everything really tight and just went through the motions. It's great, isn't it?"

Both Hoy and Kenny, who got the nod over his mentor in the individual sprint, were quick to praise the contribution of the man who has stepped into Staff's shoes as the lead-off rider for the team, the 19-year-old Hindes.

"Phil went out of the blocks like a rocket and we were swinging all over the back of him trying to keep up," said Kenny.

But it almost went very differently for Hindes, as the German-born sprinter slid down the track only seconds into the team's qualifying-round contest against Germany.

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I dug deeper than ever before, I didn't want to let the boys down

Sir Chris Hoy

Thankfully for him, the British were able to get a restart and Hindes never looked in trouble again.

"I can't believe we are Olympic champions, this is a dream come true," said Hindes. "My first start wasn't the greatest. I was trying to be the fastest, trying to be perfect."

The men's team sprint victory provided the perfect finale to a first day in the London Velodrome.

Nicknamed "the Pringle" because of its shape, the venue had seen a highly fancied British women's team sprint duo relegated for a minor rules infringement, then the men's pursuit quartet set a new world record in their qualifying round.

The emotions of the 6,000 crowd - which included the Prime Minister David Cameron, Princes William and Harry, and the Duchess of Cambridge - were tossed one way and then the other. But they definitely finished in credit.

That said, the disappointment for Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish, who were one of the favourites for gold in the team sprint, was tangible.

But such is the confidence flowing through the British team it did not unsettle the men's sprint or pursuit teams.

"I dug deeper than ever before, I didn't want to let the boys down," said Hoy, who praised the input of GB performance director Dave Brailsford.

"Dave said to us after Bradley Wiggins's time trial win that this was our chance, that we'd never get this again, and to enjoy it. We enjoyed it and we gave it our all."

This was another famous night for British cycling. They have had a few of those in recent years - and look set to have at least five more.

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