Rio track drama: Broken saddle, false starts
The final two medal rounds on the Rio velodrome offered ample drama Tuesday as Germany’s Kristina Vogel delivered a saddle-breaking bike throw to beat Becky James of Britain by four-thousandths of a second to win the Olympic women’s track cycling sprint gold.
Vogel won the first leg and in the second, which necessitated a photo finish, she pushed her bike a fraction in front of the Briton’s despite her saddle flying off as she crossed the line. “I won the second ride without a saddle, I was just struggling not to crash — it was crazy,” said Vogel.
“I really wanted to win this gold but Vogel is an incredible rider. I’m still very happy,” said James. Britain finished with two medals as Katy Marchant beat Keirin champion Elis Ligtlee of the Netherlands for bronze. “Shows how hard myself and Becky have worked. So surreal,” Marchant added.
If that wasn’t enough excitement, the men’s Keirin final was delayed by two false starts as the antsy riders passed the motorpacer too soon. Eventually, Great Britain’s Jason Kenny won the race, collecting his sixth career gold, which equals another great British sprinter, Chris Hoy.
Matthijs Buchli of the Netherlands won silver with Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia taking bronze. Awang and Kenny both were scrutinized by the jury after the first false start but were allowed to race, as was world champion Joachim Eilers of Germany, who passed the motor’s rear wheel following the first restart.
Notably, the Malaysian had to battle his way through consolation rounds, known as repechages, to earn a spot in the medal round.
“I’m so tired, I’m floating through it. I don’t know really, I turned up here in a funny mood earlier on because I was happy — not that I’m always unhappy,” Kenny told the BBC. “Pretty mental really [to equal Hoy’s record] to come here and do the same is amazing.”
“It’s character — just fantastic. This is a really special moment. Phenomenal performance tonight and all week,” Hoy added.