LONDON (AFP) –
Hosts Britain collected their fourth gold medal from five events at the Olympic velodrome Saturday after the women’s pursuit team triumphed in a new world record time of 3min 14.051sec.
The USA finished second to take the silver with Canada completing the podium in the inaugural Olympic women’s event, held over 3 km and 12 laps as opposed to 4 km and 16 for the men.
Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell had set a new world record for the 3 km event on Friday but sliced nearly a second off that time a day later in qualifying for the gold medal match in a stunning time of 3min 14.682sec.
It sent them into the final against Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch and Lauren Tamayo, who came in for Jennie Reed, but despite a tight start to the race the Americans faded over the last half.
After the first four laps the USA were only 0.78sec down, but the deficit soon grew and by the finish they were over five seconds off the pace finishing, in 3:19.727.
Britain’s new time was their third consecutive world record in as many rides and gave all three riders their maiden Olympic medal.
“We did it,” said Trott, a 20-year-old who is Britain’s favourite for gold in the inaugural women’s omnium. “We didn’t expect a world record in every round.”
King, who had much of the crowd in tears after an emotional trackside hug with her family, said: “Words can’t describe how I’m feeling right now. I’m just so happy for us all.
“We came together tonight with such an amazing team. We couldn’t have done it without each other. I’m just ecstatic. I’ve never been so happy in my life.”
With barely 90 minutes between the crucial first round rides and the medal round itself, form was always going to be a factor.
Australia had earlier just missed out on the gold medal match that would have guaranteed at least silver or gold.
And they were left lamenting that setback as they tired late on in their battle for third place with Canada, who capped off their solid campaign to post a time of 3:17.915. Australia finished in 3:18.096.
Canada’s Jasmin Glaesser was clearly overjoyed, but admitted: “It was very tough. The last two rides (were) back to back but we really wanted this as a group and as a team.
“As a thank-you for all the people who have helped us the last year to pull this off. To see it happen is just so amazing.
“We knew it was going to be a battle. We know they (Australia) start off fast but we knew it was going to come down to the last lap.
“We knew that if we paced ourselves really well and our saved ourselves for the end and have a strong finish we would have a chance.”
Having placed fifth at the last world championships, the USA’s silver was more than welcome. It also gave Hammer her second medal of the Games after her victory in the road race time trial.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Reed. “We knew that we had to step it up. Not racing for five months, you’ve no idea how your progression is going.
“We knew that we wanted to qualify second or third and it was awesome to qualify second.”