Cycling: Records fall as Britain, Germany win gold
By Dave Skretta / Associated Press - LONDON
03rd August 2012 11:48 AM
Guo Shuang and Victoria Pendleton won't have long to think about the disqualifications that cost them a chance at Olympic gold medals: They've got to race again.
Guo and Pendleton will be part of the women's field Friday for the keirin, a mass start event with a sprint finish, and will try to earn the medals that eluded them on the opening day of the track cycling program at the London Games.
Guo and her teammate Gong Jinjie thought they had won gold in the team sprint for China on Thursday, even going on a victory lap and speaking to the media. Their faces dropped when it was announced they had been disqualified — the technical term is relegated — for an illegal change, bumping them to silver and elevating the German team of Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel to the gold.
Australia beat the Ukraine women for the bronze medal.
"It wasn't the way we wanted to win because the Chinese girls had been fantastic," Welte said.
So had the British team of Pendleton and Jessica Varnish, which set the world record in their qualifying run only to have the Chinese team top it twice.
But the British team was also disqualified for an illegal change, which is when the first rider makes a mistake in peeling away so the second rider can carry on, which must happen at a designated point at the track.
The infraction meant that the British team was out of medal contention.
"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," Pendleton said. "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. Unfortunately we fell on the wrong side of that today."
The judges' decision was lustily booed by a crowd of 6,000 packed in the velodrome, but the angst gave way to adulation when the British men's sprint team came onto the track.
The trio of Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy scorched the pine wood surface to post a time of 42.600 seconds in the final, breaking the world record they had set earlier in the day.
France took silver in 43.013 seconds, and Germany beat Australia to claim bronze.
"Not many athletes get to compete in front of a home crowd," said Hoy, who matched rower Steve Redgrave's British record of five Olympic golds. "Very few have a chance to win a gold medal."
The only newcomer to the British team was Hindes, who replaced the retired Jamie Staff from the crew that won gold at the Beijing Games. Hindes gave the British team the lead after the first lap, and Kenny and Hoy only added to it while being cheered on by Princes William and Harry.
Hoy blew kisses to an overflowing crowd roaring its approval after crossing the finish line, and even gave the 19-year-old Hindes a good-natured shove after the ride of his life.
Even the soundtrack piped into the raucous velodrome was fitting: "The Boys Are Back in Town" played immediately after the race, and the theme from "Chariots of Fire" blared out to another cheer when the British team emerged for the medal ceremony.
The French team of Gregory Bauge, Kevin Sireau and Michael D'Almeida could only shake their heads at a British team determined to build on its cycling success.
Bradley Wiggins, a three-time Olympic gold medalist on the track, sent the nation into a tizzy with his Tour de France victory, and then captured gold in Wednesday's time trial. His medal came after Elizabeth Armitstead won the silver medal in the women's road race on Sunday.
"It was really bad for the girls. It was really bad to see they got disqualified because they were really fast as well," Hindes said. "Just before we went up, it was quite a hit, really, but then you've got to get straight focused again and do your own thing."
All told, there were six world records set at the velodrome.
The British team of Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh broke their own record in qualifying for the men's team pursuit, finishing the 4,000-meter ride in 3:42.499.
The Australian team of Jack Bobridge, Glenn O'Shea, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn qualified second and, along with New Zealand and Denmark, should offer the reigning Olympic champions the stiffest test when they compete for medals Friday night.
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