The 27-year-old survived a late crash in the multi-format race to punch into the record books and suitably reward years of preparation and the pressure of playing anchor point to the women’s U.S. track team competing in Tokyo.
“Olympic gold … the sound of it, I can’t get over it,” Valente said at the finish.
“I think there were 100 different emotions running through me and the biggest thing is that none of them had set in yet. I don’t know if they have still set in, or understanding what it means to be an Olympic champion. It’s been really emotional and it’s been a long five years, and I’m so happy with this result.”
Valente’s standout Omnium victory over Yumi Kajihara (Japan) and Kirsten Wild (Netherlands) earned the USA its only cycling gold medal of the Tokyo Games.
Here’s a look at the dramatic day of racing.
Favorite Laura Kenny lead a tight pack through the corner in the scratch race, the first race of the day.
A major crash early in the scratch race took down riders from Great Britain, France, Italy, and Ireland but Valente was able to avoid it and score points on the next sprint.
Valente lead across the rings, as Kirsten Wilde and Yumi Kajihara stay close.
Late in the race, Valente only had to shadow Yumi Kajihara to protect her lead.
Outsprinting rival and favorite Laura Kenny, Jennifer was able to take points in the final race.
Laura Kenny and defending world champion Amalie Dideriksen of Denmark put pressure on the field in the tempo race.
Riders strung out single file at the start of the scratch race in the Izu Velodrome on the last day of competition.
Valente on the rail, followed by Kajihara, at the start of the elimination race.
Pre-race favorites Kirsten Wilde, Laura Kenny, and Elisa Balsamo on the front of a tightly packed field.
Valente lead Clara Copponi and Amalie Dideriksen across the line in the elimination race.
Long-time personal coach Ben Sharp celebrated with Valente.
USA Cycling’s endurance team pursuit coach Gary Sutton congratulated Valente at the finish.
Photographers closed in as Valente posed with the flag.
Jennifer Valente took the first gold medal in cycling for the United States since 2000.
The Olympic gold medalist: Jennifer Valente.
Jennifer Valente with the Olympic gold medal she worked for since her days of racing on the track as a junior.