Well after all the waiting here we are finally in the velodrome. The place is packed, the temperature is high, the anticipation is at fever pitch. Will we see a repeat of the domination of Beijing, or will the rest of the world pay us back on our home territory?
By now you know some of the answers! There was both triumph and disappointment on the first day, with Vicky Pendleton and Jess Varnish relegated for an early changeover in the Women’s Team Sprint, a world record qualifying time by the Men’s Team Pursuit foursome of Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Geraint Thomas and Pete Kennaugh, and a brilliant Gold Medal for the Men’s Team Sprint trio of Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny, and Sir Chris Hoy.
You’ll have seen or read about the races themselves, so I won’t attempt to report them, just give you a few impressions from my point of view. I spent much of the evening sat with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, just along from a group of the Royal Family that included Prince William and his wife, Prince Harry, and Princess Anne (hope I haven’t offended any royal protocol by listing them in that order!).
I also spotted numerous other politicians including Chancellor George Osborne, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and former Prime Minister John Major. I can tell you that all of them were absolutely delighted with their evening with our sport.
It was certainly an evening to remember, full of incident. But for me two things stand out. The Team Pursuit world record was a fantastic ride, in a class apart from the rest. The only worry I have is that the Australians were able to take it a little bit easy, knowing that they only needed a relatively slow time to qualify for the next round. But they still lost a man very early, and I don’t believe they have enough in the tank to beat GB. You can never rule out those Aussies though, so the final will be a fantastic race, you can be sure of that.
The Men’s Team Sprint final was also a brilliant performance, and the crowd were particularly ecstatic to see Sir Chris Hoy gain his fifth Olympic Gold Medal. And I think it’s fair to say that Chris was pretty happy too. A great first lap by the youngster Philip, but look a little closer at the second lap – Jason Kenny is absolutely on fire and put in an amazing time. Remember he’s been selected for the Individual Sprint over defending champion Chris – you can be sure he’s not going to want to disappoint.
A great start and a great few days to look forward to. Can we win Gold in 7 out of the 10 track events like we did in Beijing? Well, that would be unbelievable and I think the answer is probably not. But I’m confident we’ll be there or thereabouts in all of them, so you never know. And I do know it’s going to be totally thrilling watching them try!