LONDON (AFP) –
Britain’s Victoria Pendleton produced an unbeatable turn of speed inside the final lap to win the inaugural women’s keirin gold and claim her second Olympic title on Friday.
China’s Guo Shuang finished a close second with Sarah Lee Wai-Sze finishing third in the six-woman final to take bronze and hand Hong Kong their first ever cycling medal and fifth overall in Olympic history.
Anna Meares, the two-time and defending world champion, made the first move after the motor-paced derny left the track with three laps to race, moving in front of the pack in commanding fashion.
But shortly after, Pendleton put in a quick burst of speed to overtake her Australian rival on the final lap.
Once Pendleton was in front, there was no way back for her rivals.
“My coach said to me, ‘don’t look to their race, just make your own. When it’s your moment, just go’,” said Pendleton.
“My legs were still good from last night. I really wanted to show what I’ve got. It turned out okay, I guess.”
Meares appeared to run out of gas and got boxed in. In the end it was Guo, a silver medal winner in the women’s team sprint with Gong Jinjie on Thursday, who came fighting back on the home straight.
Guo, who won sprint bronze in Beijing, had put a plan together with French coach Daniel Morelon, France’s last winner of the Olympic men’s sprint, in 1972.
“At the beginning of each lap I was always in the front, behind the derny. It’s not what I usually do,” said Guo.
“This was the plan I made with the coach. It was a really tactical final, so I’m glad I took the silver medal.”
Pendleton, who beat Meares to the Olympic sprint crown in Beijing, had been relegated with team sprint partner Jess Varnish on Thursday after an irregular changeover.
But with her preferred event of the individual sprint to come, she has given main rival Meares, as well as Guo, plenty of food for thought ahead of the start of the event on Sunday.
“I am really looking forward to the sprint,” added the Englishwoman, who will retire from the sport after what will be her third Olympics.
“I am hoping in the sprint I have a good chance there. I am going to rest up the next couple of days and come back with a vengeance.”
Pendleton’s gold was Britain’s third from the track in two days.
The British men defended their team sprint title on Thursday and the men’s pursuit team defended their title from Beijing earlier.