British cyclists Laura Trott and Jason Kenny have become the most successful Olympic couple ever by winning two more medals in the Rio velodrome – and have helped to secure Team GB’s best away Olympics with five days still to go.
The engaged couple now have 10 gold medals between them and their wins further cement Britain’s second place ahead of China in the medals table.
Trott became the first British woman to claim four Olympic gold medals with her win in the omnium. And Kenny equalled the British record haul of Sir Chris Hoy after winning his sixth Olympic gold in a tense keirin final that had to be restarted twice, causing havoc to the BBC’s programming schedule.
Kenny was spared disqualification from the race after appearing to pass the motorised derny pacer bike in the first false start. News at 10 was delayed by 90 minutes as cycling officials and BBC commentators pored over ambiguous race rules about the derny.
Kenny, the race favourite, was allowed to race but a second false start followed as over-eager competitors jostled for position against him. Kenny held his nerve to win and equal the record of Hoy who was punching the air and cheering him on from the commentary box.
Kenny’s victory was the highlight of a nine-medal haul from Britain’s team on day 11 of the games.
Earlier Giles Scott made sure Britain kept its monopoly in sailing’s Finn class with another gold. And fellow sailors Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are all but certain to win another gold for Great Britain in the women’s 470.
Team GB now has 50 medals including 19 golds, nine behind the United States and two ahead of China. The prospect of finishing behind Britain for the first time since China rejoined the Games in 1984 prompted Chinese state media to describes its team performance so far as “the worst Olympic flop”.
Britain’s medal haul represents a greater success at this stage of the Games than the team’s best-ever Olympic performance four years ago in London. The team already has three more medals than it secured at the previous best away Games in Beijing.
Team GB’s Rio 2016 chef de mission, Mark England, said: “The best ever away Games is a piece of history and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to reach that target so on early on at Rio 2016.”
Team GB enjoyed further medal success in the velodrome with Becky James getting a silver in the women’s sprint final and Katy Marchant taking bronze in the same event.
Other nations have questioned Britain’s dominance in the velodrome. The German cyclist Kristina Vogel, who took gold ahead of James in the sprint, said: “I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything, but it’s certainly questionable … I have no idea how they do it.”
Australia’s Anna Meares, who won bronze in the keirin at the weekend, told the Sydney Morning Herald: “The British are just phenomenal when it comes to the Olympic Games, and we’re all just scratching our heads going, ‘How do they lift so much when in so many events they have not even been in contention in the world championships?’
British Cycling’s head coach, Iain Dyer, described the comments as “a shame” and said the performance of Britain’s cycling opponents were not good enough.
Speaking to the BBC following his win, Kenny said: “Today just felt like a dream really, I think I’m just kind of so tired I’m just floating through it. So yeah, I really enjoyed today.”
He said it was “pretty mental” to have equalled Hoy’s medal haul, adding that the 10 golds he and his fiancee have amassed between them was “not bad”.
In the pool, Jack Laugher claimed the silver medal after a gruelling six-round competition at the men’s 3m springboard.
It means that Laugher is now Britain’s most successful diver, after his gold medal last week in the synchronised diving.
Earlier on Tuesday evening, gymnast Amy Tinkler, the youngest member of the British team, took bronze in the women’s floor exercise final. The 16-year-old from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, who will find out her GCSE exam results next week, cried as she secured third place with a score of 14.933.
She told BBC: “I just love competing in front of big crowds, it’s just incredible, I’m just so shocked.”
Less than an hour later, Nile Wilson won bronze in the men’s high-bar final – a first for Team GB in the event.
The 20-year-old from Pudsey, West Yorkshire, punched the air with both fists as he landed his routine, which earned him a score of 15.466.
And boxer Joshua Buatsi claimed a bronze medal in the men’s light-heavyweight category after a semi-final defeat to Adilbek Niyazymbetov of Kazakhstan.
This article was written by Matthew Weaver, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 17th August 2016 11.49 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010