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MINSK, Belarus (AFP) — Britain’s Olympic sprint champion Jason Kenny won the keirin gold medal at the UCI Elite Track World Championships on Friday, a victory that sent girlfriend Laura Trott, also a title winner, into a Twitter frenzy.
Kenny beat German favorite Maximilian Levy, the 2009 world champion who had lost out to another British rider, double Olympic champion Chris Hoy, in London last year. Dutch rider Matthijs Buchli claimed bronze.
Trott, Kenny’s girlfriend and a gold medalist in the women’s team pursuit on Thursday, praised Kenny on Twitter:
“Arghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!! Happiest girlfriend in the world!!!!
@JasonKenny107 #lovehim x.
Kenny, 24, who delivered Britain’s third gold of the championships, had reached the final the hard way, needing to go through the repechage in the first round before earning a place in the final when France’s Franois Pervis was disqualified for blocking the Briton.
“It was unbelievable. I put my hopes on Levy, saying I would stick to him and try and pass at the finish, which is how it worked out,” Kenny told the BBC. “I was suffering a crisis of confidence after coming sixth in the team pursuit. But a bit of luck finally went my way and the final unfolded perfectly.”
Simon Yates opened Britain’s Friday gold account when he clinched victory in the men’s points race, beating Spain’s Eloy Teruel by a point. The 20-year-old Briton had been a point behind the Spaniard before the final sprint, but a third-place finish in the deciding showdown allowed him to snatch gold.
Bronze went to Russia’s Kiril Sveshnikov, who was second in the last sprint.
Yates succeeds Australia’s Cameron Meyer who won the title in 2009, 2010, and 2012 as world champion.
“I just tried to save some energy for the end and (I started to believe) with 10 laps to go when I realized I needed just one point,” Yates told the BBC. “When you’ve got a world title on the line you get that energy from somewhere.”
In the day’s other final, Katarzyna Pawlowska of Poland retained her women’s scratch title. The 23-year-old finished comfortably ahead of Sofia Arreola of Mexico after 40 laps (10km) of the Minsk Arena.
Yevgenya Romanyuta of Russia took the bronze, ahead of Laurie Berthon of France, who lost out on a medal in the sprint to the line.
Pacesetter Caroline Ryan of Ireland was holding on until 12 laps from the end when the Polish defending champion made her move. Though Ryan’s compatriot Martyn Irvine was able to hold on for gold after adopting a similar tactic in Thursday’s men’s scratch race, Ryan was out of luck.
Pawlowska waited patiently and then broke clear two laps out as an exhausted Ryan slipped back down the field to finish seventh.
Giorgia Bronzini of Italy, road world champion in 2010 and 2011, was a disappointing 11th.