Olympics: Golden day for Team GB as Chris Hoy rides into history books

Gold: Great Britain's Sir Chris Hoy celebrates Gold in the team sprint final on the first day of the track cycling at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park. Photo: Tim Ireland/PA Wire.
Gold: Great Britain's Sir Chris Hoy celebrates Gold in the team sprint final on the first day of the track cycling at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park. Photo: Tim Ireland/PA Wire.
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SIR Chris Hoy rode to glory tonight as he took an historic fifth Olympic title on a golden day for Britain.

He equalled Sir Steve Redgrave’s record haul of five golds and boosted the atmosphere at the Velodrome where fans saw Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish miss out on a medal chance after being relegated from the team sprint event for a takeover infringement.

Sir Chris and team-mates Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny smashed the world record they set in qualifying as they successfully defended their title in the men’s team sprint against France.

Their win topped off a fantastic day as Team GB shot up the medals table with sharp-shooter Peter Wilson gunning his way to Olympic glory and Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie triumphing in the two-man canoe slalom.

Gemma Gibbons also took home a brave silver in the women’s 78kg judo final, boosting the home nation’s medal haul to five golds, six silver and four bronze.

An emotional Sir Chris wiped a tear from his eye on the top step of the podium as the national anthem finished playing, with the partisan crowd singing along.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and David Cameron were all on their feet cheering the British trio home in a world record-breaking 42.6 seconds.

The Prime Minister tweeted: “It was a huge privilege to witness @TeamGB win the Men’s Team Sprint with a World Record. A truly great day for the UK.”

Sir Chris said the success was “quite overwhelming”.

“We knew it was possible, this hasn’t come out of the blue,” he told BBC One.

“We knew that if we put together our best possible race on the day that it was possible but it’s easier said than done.

“We had the full support of the team behind us and we nailed it.

“That last ride I dug deeper than I have ever dug before. I didn’t want to let the boys down, they have been riding so well today.

“You can’t overstate what it means to us in front of our home crowd.”

The performance capped a remarkable 24 hours for British cycling after Bradley Wiggins became the first man to win the Tour de France and Olympic gold in the same year with victory in the road time-trial.

But Hoy must now wait until Tuesday’s final day of the track programme to compete in his second event, the men’s keirin, in which he is the world champion.

Britain shot up to fifth in the overall medals table as sharp-shooter Peter Wilson gunned his way to Olympic glory and Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie triumphed in the two-man canoe slalom.

Gemma Gibbons also took home a silver in the women’s 78kg judo final, boosting the home nation’s medal haul to four golds, six silver and four bronze by the end of the afternoon.

But there was disappointment on the first day of action in the Velodrome where boos replaced cheers as Britons Pendleton and Jess Varnish were disqualified in the women’s team sprint.

A tearful Pendleton, crowned the queen of the track after her Beijing sprint success, had no qualms over the decision, but 21-year-old Varnish was so devastated she opted out of media duties.

Pendleton said: “It was an illegal change. I came through in the change zone about a metre too early; we’re talking about one hundredth of a second of a mistake there.

“Jess moved up a fraction too early and I just saw the door and went for it, because that’s my cue to try to squeeze underneath her as quickly as possible.

“It’s one of those things that happens. It’s quicker than a blink of an eye.

“You have to stick by the rules. The rules are there to make it a fair sport.”

In the canoe slalom, Stott and Baillie took gold, with fellow Britons David Florence and Richard Hounslow winning silver at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.

Just minutes later at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Wilson shot his way to gold in a dramatic double trap men’s finals.

But he was turning his attention to shots of a different kind tonight.

The 25-year-old farmer’s son from Dorset landed Britain’s first shooting medal in 12 years after coming through a nerve-jangling final in the double trap, and then outlined exactly how he planned to celebrate.

“I’m going to get very, very drunk and do something stupid,” he said.

A capacity crowd gave the new Olympic champion a standing ovation before he climbed into the first row of seats to greet his mother and tearful girlfriend Michelle.

As he was surrounded by photographers he simply said: “It’s awesome, fantastic.”

And soon after there was another medal as Gibbons took silver in the women’s 78kg judo final.

Gibbons paid tribute to her late mother, Jeanette, who introduced her to the sport when she was six years old, as she grappled her way to Olympic silver.

Her mother died in 2004 from leukaemia, but has continued to serve as an inspiration to the 25-year-old athlete, who born in Charlton, south east London.

As she won her quarter-final in the women’s under-78kg category earlier today, Gibbons said: “I love you, Mum.”

And she wept with joy and mouthed the word “Mum” as she went through to the final, against the USA’s Kayla Harrison.

“It does not quite feel real at the moment,” the fighter said.

“It has been difficult to get here, but it is not easy for any athlete.

“When you are training as hard as you can but not getting results in competitions, you do think ‘What do I have to do?’

“Deep within, though, I always knew I could do something special, and that is what drives you on.”

Stott and Baillie won gold in a time of 106.41 seconds in front of a jubilant home crowd, followed by Hounslow and Florence who registered a time of 106.77 seconds to claim silver.

Sir Chris and his teammates survived a fright in a night of high-drama at the Velodrome.

Hindes picked himself up off the track after a poor start in qualifying to help propel Britain to two world records and Olympic gold.

The 19-year-old German-born rider, who joined British Cycling’s academy in October 2010, first suggested his crash was a deliberate ploy.

He said: “We were saying if we have a bad start we need to crash to get a restart. I just crashed, I did it on purpose to get a restart, just to have the fastest ride.

“I did it. So it was all planned, really.”

But British Cycling suggested Hindes’ comments were “lost in translation” from a man who began learning English only after moving to Manchester to train at the Velodrome, while the International Cycling Union confirmed the result was not in question.

In the post-race press conference, Hindes denied it was deliberate when asked directly about his earlier comments.

“No. I just went out the gate and just lost control, just fell down,” he said.

“My back wheel slipped and totally lost control and then I couldn’t handle the bike any more and just crashed.”