LONDON, Aug 6, 2012 (AFP) – Britain’s Jason Kenny claimed his first
individual gold medal Monday when he stunned Frenchman Gregory Bauge 2-0 to
win track cycling’s Olympic sprint title.
Kenny, a 24-year-old from Bolton, was given the nod over defending champion
Chris Hoy to defend Britain’s chances of sprint gold at his home Games after
the rules were changed to limit each nation to one rider per event.
Four years after finishing second to Hoy in Beijing, Kenny seized his
opportunity with both hands.
After his runner-up place to Bauge at the Melbourne world championships in
April, Kenny signaled his intent from day one by qualifying fastest in the
200m flying lap.
It was no guarantee of victory, but it showed he had the finishing speed
required against the fastest men on the track.
He then sailed through the rounds to set up a duel with Bauge, the
three-time world champion who had been expected to hand France their first
title in the event since Daniel Morelon in 1972.
Billed as the ‘dream’ Olympic final by both riders, the only surprise was
that Bauge did not level the match to take it to a third leg decider.
“I’m really pleased about that,” said Kenny. “We’re really close (in
performance). At the worlds and the year before, he’s been the slightly faster
“Three days ago, I qualified a little bit quicker, and again the race has
come down to that.
“I like racing against Baauge, he’s a real pro rider and it always makes
for some pretty exciting racing.”
Australia’s Shane Perkins beat Trinidad’s Njisane Phillip to win the bronze.
Although Hoy had the chance to defend all three of his sprint, team sprint
and keirin titles in London, Kenny was given the green light to represent
Britain in the sprint barely a month ago.
He admitted his duel with Hoy for the sole sprint spot had spurred him on.
“It was quite the battle to get here with Chris. I didn’t want to mess that
one up. I was really pleased. I just did it for the team. It’s pretty amazing.”
Kenny’s gold is the fifth for Britain after seven finals at the velodrome.
The hosts also have gold medal hopes in the three finals which are held on
the last day of competition Tuesday — the men’s keirin and the women’s omnium
Gold medal final
1. Jason Kenny (GBR)
2. Gregory Bauge (FRA)
Bronze medal final
3. Shane Perkins (AUS)
4. Njisane Phillip (TRI)
5. Denis Dmitriev (RUS) 10.340
6. Jimmy Watkins (USA)
7. Robert Forstemann (GER)
8. Azizulhasni Awang (MAS)
9. Seiichiro Nakagawa (JPN) 10.950
10. Pavel Kelemen (CZE)
11. Bernard Esterhuizen (RSA)
12. Hersony Canelon (VEN)