Jason Kenny won the most amazing gold medal of his glorious track cycling career in the keirin competition as the Tokyo Olympics came to a conclusion on Sunday.
The 33-year-old sprinted all out with three laps to go - a dangerous, usually futile tactic and one rarely seen at this level of competition - and held on, keeping the chasing pack at bay and defending his Olympic title.
It was the seventh Olympic gold medal of Kenny’s career and his ninth medal overall, placing him above fellow cyclists Sir Chris Hoy (six golds, seven total medals) and Sir Bradley Wiggins (five golds, eight medals) on the list of all-time British athletes at Olympic Games.
It was also a seventh track medal for the British at the Izu Velodrome this year and the 12th cycling medal of the Tokyo Olympics for the Great Britain Cycling Team - matching their best ever tally of a dozen medals collected at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.
With a total of six golds, four silvers and two bronzes, Great Britain’s team go home with an identical haul to 2016 and on top of the 2020 cycling medal table, just ahead of the Netherlands.
Kenny’s Olympic success now covers four Games, starting at Beijing 2008, and three disciplines, the keirin, individual and team sprints.
But none of his medals were won in a way quite as spectacular as this.
“I’m absolutely buzzing, I’m well happy with that,” said Kenny. “It seemed a long way off yesterday and the day before. I felt like I was cooked.
“I felt like I had run my course but now I feel re-born again! I’ll go again.
“I had the fortunate position of having nothing to lose, coming eighth in the sprint and having to hack my way through the reps. By the time I got to the Final we would have put Jack (Carlin) in if we could have had anyone with a chance of winning a medal.
“So, at that point I came into it as an underdog and that’s probably why they let me slip off the front.”
Kenny’s efforts were all the more impressive as, by his own admission, the veteran was below his usual best in missing out on a medal in the individual sprint and winning silver in the team sprint this week.
Young team-mate Jack Carlin was viewed as Britain’s best medal hope - by Kenny himself - but was eliminated in a tough semi-final before finishing eighth overall via the consolation final.
Kenny had even needed a repechage race to get through the opening round of the keirin on Saturday.
But he peaked on the last day of competition, coming through his quarter and semi-final rides on Sunday morning before delivering his killer blow in the Final ahead of silver medalist Mohd Awang of Malaysia and Harrie Lavreysen from the Netherlands.
Unfortunately, there would be no medal success to end the Olympics for Kenny’s wife Laura who was looking to add to the gold she won in the Madison and silver in the team pursuit this week.
One of the favourites to defend her omnium title, Kenny was an innocent victim of a huge crash that occurred at the end of the opening scratch race in the four-discipline competition.
That left her in the 13th place and, although she won the tempo race that followed, Kenny departed the elimination race early, leaving her 13th, again, in that event.
That saw Kenny enter the deciding points race in ninth place, 22 points off the bronze medal position. Seeking the seventh medal of her Olympic career, Kenny rode well and won a number of sprints but could only climb into sixth place as Jennifer Valente of the USA won gold.
“It was just a nightmare,” said Kenny. “When I went down, I just thought, that is it, there’s not a chance of getting this back.
“You just can’t make it up! I thought coming into this, I’ve had my bad luck, surely, and then lo and behold, I get taken down again.
“Jason said to me last night if you win the omnium we can make a close out of gold medals and he’s only gone and done it, hasn’t he?”
In the women’s individual sprint, Katy Marchant wound up her campaign by finishing sixth in the competition.