Great Britain’s Jason Kenny claimed the ultimate prize in men’s sprinting, grabbing gold in a display of total dominance, beating his sprint nemesis Gregory Bauge of France 2-0 in a thrilling finale in the London Velodrome.
Kenny was in the form of his life throughout the entire three days of the men’s sprint competition, beginning his campaign by posting a new Olympic record of 9.713 in the 200m time trial before cruising through the rounds and making short work of his opponents in the finals.
First Kenny beat Awang of Malaysia in two straight rides in the quarter finals and a day later dispatched the mercurial newcomer Njisane Philip of Trinidad and Tobago in the semi finals in similar style. Come the final and Kenny got the upper hand in match one against the massive Frenchman, world champion Gregory Bauge, displaying superior tactical awareness and physical condition.
Match two came and gold was in the balance. Kenny led off, Bauge stalked a few bike lengths back. The young man from Bolton never took his eye off the Frenchman as Bauge attempted to lead Kenny out of position. Kenny was still out front at the bell, clearly confident that he had the power to take the match from the front, hitting full gas with Bauge trying to get into the Briton’s slipstream. However, Kenny had made the jump and didn’t look back, powering home on a bow wave of support from the home crowd.
Kenny’s performance over three days and finally in the gold rideoff against Bauge vindicated the tough decision that Great Britain’s selectors had to make, choosing Kenny over the experienced Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy.
Hoy was quick to acknowledge this and posted on Twitter moments after Kenny’s win: "I know I said I was off Twitter til after tomorrow but that was PHENOMENAL by Jason Kenny. So happy and proud of him, well deserved mate.”
Speaking to the BBC Kenny said: "It's amazing. I hadn't even thought about it until the last round and it dawned on me. I did it for the team. We were really close and he's been faster at the Worlds. Three days ago I qualifed quicker and I like racing against Bauge."
Later in the post-race press conference, in which Kenny was quizzed by his opponent Bauge on the subject of his preparation leading up to the event, Kenny spoke of the pressure he felt to justify his sprint selection ahead of mentor and friend Hoy:
"Before we went up for the very last ride it dawned on me that if Chris was in my shoes here, there was no way he'd lose this one.
"If you look back in history, when it comes down to that really important ride, Chris nine times out of 10 smokes it," said Kenny. "He's got that real killer instinct to finish off a race when it matters.
"It was just a case of getting up there and justifying my place."
Jamie Staff, who won team sprint gold in Beijing alongside Kenny and Hoy said: "It was awesome to see and Jason Kenny deserves it. He's laid back but when he puts on the helmet he's a different person."
Kenny’s gold brought Great Britain's cycling medal haul up to nine, with six golds, a silver and two bronzes for the all conquering team.