Great Britain team pursuiters Joanna Rowsell, Laura Trott and Dani King stole the show on Saturday’s session at the London Velodrome, winning gold against the USA in emphatic style, beating their own world record twice, set in qualifying just 24 hours earlier.
Great Britain’s performance in the first round was full bore, beating rivals Canada to earn a place in the final, knocking a second off their own world record. They faced the USA in the final, who’d overhauled Australia in the first round.
Great Britain emerged onto the track to a wall of noise from the capacity crowd and from the gun made their intent clear. Rowsell, Trott and King were up 0.6 of a second in the first lap prompting a desperate response from USA. The Americans hung on for 1km before collapsing dramatically as Great Britain piled on the pressure. By 2000 metres Great Britain were over two seconds up and victory was assured, homing in on the USA in the final 500m and setting yet another new world record of 3:14.051, over five seconds ahead of the USA trio.
Emotional scenes followed with Rowsell, Trott and King receiving a standing ovation from the capacity crowd, many of whom were family and friends of the trio. Speaking moments later to the BBC, Jo Rowsell said, "I could tell we'd done it by the cheer of the crowd, we didn’t need Paul (Manning) walking the line because they were just shouting so loud, they really spurred us on in that last kilometre”.
Rowsell continued and said that everybody from support staff to mechanics played their part: "Other nations have really raised their game so it's great that we are leading the way.
"You never want to be complacent but we had had a great day and I felt we had more to give coming into the final race.
"The atmosphere was tremendous and the crowd helped drive us on."
The ever effervescent Laura Trott said, “It's mad, I can't believe it it's been my dream since I was eight, we've gone and done it. I don't think we expected it," while Dani King added, “We're like sisters, I couldn’t have done it without them, they were absolutely incredible and I can't believe we've done it!"
Today’s performance meant that the Great Britain women’s team pursuit squad had broken the world record each of the last six times they had taken to the track in elite competition, a feat perhaps unparalleled in sporting history and testimony to a massive amount of hard work and preparation from the squad, marshalled by coach Paul Manning.
“I don’t think we expected it – I think here maybe we expected it in one of the rounds but in every single ride that we did... we just can’t believe it really.”
Following the podium presentation, the crowd, led by Sir Paul McCartney, serenaded the trio with an impromptu rendition of The Beatles classic 'Hey Jude', which blew away the already incredulous Trott:
"It's unbelievable. We didn't expect a Beatle to be here. It's not often that you can say you've waved and blown a kiss at a Beatle."
The beknighted Beatle wasn't the only global celebrity to heap praise on the British trio. Actor Samuel L Jackson tweeted: "Like I said before, those BRITS are some PEDALIN', RECORD BREAKIN', MUTHACYCLINPHUCCAS!! Congrats UK!", prompting Sir Chris Hoy to retweet: "Think we should get @SamuelLJackson's tweet about the GB cycling team laminated and put on the wall in the BC (British Cycling) office!"
With performances like those of Rowsell, Trott and King, it's little wonder that Great Britain's cyclists are attracting a whole new global audience of sports fans and inspiring a whole nation to get involved, with London 2012 seeing British Cycling membership growing at an unprecendented rate.
Action at the track continues on Sunday with the women's sprint, men's sprint and men's omnium competitions.