• London 2012 - Cycling

Pendleton & GB team pursuit enjoy golden night

ESPN staff
August 3, 2012

Victoria Pendleton became only the eighth British woman to have claimed two Olympic gold medals as she clinched a narrow victory in the keirin on Friday evening.

Medal Table

Pendleton cruised through the heats and semi-finals of the keirin to reach the final earlier in the afternoon, as she looked to overcome the disappointment of her team sprint disqualification.

And she was imperious in the final, taking the lead with just under two laps remaining and holding off the rest of the field as her arch-rival, Australia's Anna Meares, surprisingly fell away.

"I can barely believe it right now," Pendleton said. "It was hard with the excitement of the guys and girls and their world records before - I had to focus. It was so hard, I can't believe it. The crowd have been fantastic, they really helped me today."

Pendleton still has an opportunity to add another gold medal in the individual sprint, and is hopeful she can end her career on a high.

"I really wanted to show what I've got and it worked out okay, I guess!" she noted. "I'm really looking forward to the sprint now, I hope I've got a good chance there."

Before Pendleton's ride, Great Britain's men set a new world record to claim gold in the team pursuit inside the Velodrome.

The quartet of Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh and Steven Burke demolished close rivals Australia to clinch gold in the 4000m race, after crossing the line in a time of 4:51.659 seconds.

"I just can't explain it," Clancy said afterwards. "We had good vibes in the training camp a few weeks away, thought we could do it [set a world record].

"We have spent so many years thinking about this moment, and when it happened it was just a made explosion of emotion."

Kennaugh added: "It feels like we have talked this to death since November. To get it done is amazing."

It was a memorable start to the night's action inside 'The Pringle', one that promised to be special after Team GB's four-man team had earlier booked their place in the final with a defeat of Denmark that was only fractionally shy of the world record that they set at last year's World Championships.

Australia are a tough proposition, however - they were considered the dominant force in this discipline barely 12 months ago - but Great Britain ensured there would be no disappointment in the gold medal race as they burst into an early lead and built from there, driving home their advantage over the final 1000 metres of the 4km race to break the world record by over three seconds and threaten to raise the roof off the stadium.

Thomas, who did not participate in the Tour de France or other road events this year to focus on the Olympics, revealed the sacrifices all the members of the team had made in order to reach this moment.

Great Britain's team pursuit squad accept their gold medals © PA Photos

"In November we were in the track at 7.30 in the morning, they stopped us going to a Rihanna concert in November. They have been on our backs since then," Thomas noted. "It has been full on.

"To finish it off it is amazing. I was ill last week and it was tough mentally to get back to where I was but without these boys I couldn't have done it.

"I'd miss the Tour anyday to feel like that again."

Tour de France winner, and Olympic time trial gold medallist, Bradley Wiggins was in awe of both performances.

"To go out in front of these crowds and produce a performance like that in the team pursuit final was phenomenal," Wiggins told the BBC. "I would love to have been out there tonight. I'm jealous in a way...

"Vicky rises to the occasion. She pulls it out when she needs to. To pull out a performance like that in what isn't her strongest event is phenomenal."

At the start of the evening session, Great Britain's female team pursuit team set a new world record as they laid down a real marker for the medal races and gave every reason to suggest they will emulate their male counterparts.

Heavily fancied for gold in the Velodrome this week, the trio of Dani King, Laura Trott and Jo Rowsell went off last and blew away those who had come before - beating their nearest challengers by over three seconds to ensure they will be in Saturday's final.

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