An emotional final day in the velodrome saw the final three medals decided, two Olympic legends bow out and, quite possibly, a new won crowned. The last two events of the Women’s Omnium, the Semi Finals and Finals of the Women’s Sprint and the Finals of the Men’s Keirin… Did any ticket at the Games provide as much value for money?
Women’s Sprint – Semi Finals
The Semi Finals of the Women’s Sprint were the first order of the day. In Heat 1, Victoria Pendleton of Great Britain drew the bottom of the track and took the front, keeping Germany’s Kristina Vogel behind and the pace high at the front. She ramped up the speed and led it out, keeping Vogel on her shoulder all the way to the line. 1-0
Anna Meares of Australia and Shuang Guo of China were up next and Meares received a well deserved cheer from the crowd. We’ve seen mixed form from both riders this week, but Meares has looked as though she has the edge. Guo took the front and the two circulated high on the banking. Meares made the jump but Guo came dramatically down the track and pushed Meares on to the cote d’azur. There’s little doubt that she we would have be relegated, were it not for the fact that Meares simply shrugged the incident off and made sure she came him first.
Pendleton and Vogel returned to the track for their second ride with Vogel taking the initiative. By the bell, the German had a big gap on Pendelton but the British rider just squeezed on the power and cruised round Vogel and in to the Final
The second heat in the other Semi saw an easy win for Meares. Guo made a nice move and pulled away from the Australian but she simply didn’t have the power. Meares eased up to her rear wheel and used the draft to slingshot around Guo to join Pendleton in the Final.
Women’s Sprint – Finals
The first ride of the Gold Medal Final everybody had been waiting for, didn’t quite have the outcome the capacity audience wanted. Pendelton led the sprint out but Meares relentlessly reeled her in coming round her on the exit of the final corner and pulled alongside her down the home straight. On the line there was no way to separate them by eye. You had to look quite hard at the photo. The margin was less than a thousandth of a second – a fraction of a tyre width. But it was Pendleton that had it. The velodrome erupted.
Then, as they had following Pendleton’s Team Sprint earlier in the Games, the Comms pored over the footage of the final part of the race. You could have cut the tension in the velodrome with a knife and then, finally, the announcement came. Pendleton was relegated. The shock was palpable.
None of the camera angles is perfect and hours after the velodrome closed for the final time in these games, the discussion rumbled on in TV news studios and on the internet. Why the debate? It’s clear from the video that Pendleton did swing up as Meares passed her. Not much, but she did come out of the sprinter’s lane. The question was why.
Ardent Meares fans say that Pendleton simply couldn’t hold her line and swung up the track as she exited the corner. Arch Pendelton fans, that Meares hit Pendleton as she came round her off the bed and the contact caused her to swing up. Neutrals suggested that Meares had feigned a move down on to Pendleton but that the contract was down to the fact that Pendleton reacted to that feint instinctively and swung up.
It didn’t matter. It was 1-0 to Meares and Pendelton needed to win the second ride to take the match to a decider. Meares led the ride out but Pendeleton moved to the front. With a lap and a half to go, she saw a chance and jumped. Whether she had second thoughts about going from so far out or made a mistake wasn’t clear, but she hesitated and Meares reacted. She eased past her British rival and took the win in their final confrontation – and with it, the Gold Medal.
Pendelton was disappointed by the result, bemused by the relegation but, most of all, relieved to be finished. Meares was absolutely delighted. She’d lifted the spirits of an cycling squad that had performed far below their own expectations – and a Olympic Team that had, proportionately, underperformed their cyclists.
GOLD Anna Meares AUS
SILVER Victoria Pendleton GBR
BRONZE Shuang Guo CHN
Women’s Omnium V – Scratch Race
Going in to the Omnium Scratch Sarah Hammer of the USA was a point up on Great Britain’s Laura Trott. Although Annette Edmondson of Australia and Tara Whitten were still theoretically still in touch, in practice they would need to place 6 or more places ahead of Hammer and Trott to reduce their deficit after four events and overcome Trott’s likely advantage in the final event – the 500m Time Trial.
Trott, on the other hand, ideally needed to finish ahead of Hammer and certainly couldn’t afford to lose more than a place or two.
Unlike the previous day’s Points Race, this one was flat out from the gun. Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands made the first real attack. She wasn’t a major threat for the overall but she did have an outside chance of joining the fight for Bronze. Belgium’s Jolien D’Hoore was also a longshot for a medal and she moved to the front of the bunch to chase Wild down.
Wild was left dangling out on her own and, although she pulled out over half a lap on the chasing bunch, it was too much to ask given the pace of the bunch and she blew up and returned to the fold.
Trott and Edmondson got away in a potentially dangerous group but it was just a bit too big and not quite organised enough. It all came back together. Then Hammer attacked with Huang of China but Trott snuffed the move out.
With 20 laps to go, Sharakova and D’Hoore were away, but they were no threat to the overall and the bunch just kept them insight without making a killer move to bring them back. Calle of Colombia joined the break, but they couldn’t get much of a gap.
Then Whitten and Hammer decided to work together to close down the break. It wasn’t clear why Hammer was working – D’Hoore was a threat to Whitten’s fight for Bronze but not for Hammer’s battle for the Gold. Perhaps she thought she might need an ally in the later stages.
In the final third of the race Trott simply shadowed Hammer – with Edmondson and Whitten never too far away. With three to go Hammer went for it with Endmondson and Trott on her wheel. Edmondson took the win from Hammer with Trott and Wild in a photo for 3rd. When Trott was confirmed in 3rd it set up a thrilling conclusion.
That left Hammer two points clear but it meant that if Trott finished 3 places ahead of Hammer in the Time Trial, she’d win. If she finished 2 places & seven tenths of ahead of Hammer in the Time Trial, she would still take the Gold. And based on their performances at the World Championships in Melbourne, both scenarios were entirely possible. Barring a lifetime best for Whitten or a disaster for Edmondson, the Australian looked likely to claim the Bronze.
Women’s Omnium Scratch Race Result
1 EDMONDSON Annette AUS
2 HAMMER Sarah USA
3 TROTT Laura GBR
4 WILD Kirsten NED
5 D’HOORE Jolien BEL
6 WHITTEN Tara CAN
7 KIESANOWSKI Joanne NZL
8 HUANG Li CHN
9 LEE Minhye KOR
10 ROMANYUTA Evgeniya RUS
11 CALLE WILLIAMS Maria Luisa COL
12 SHARAKOVA Tatsiana BLR
13 WOJTYRA Malgorzata POL
14 MEJIAS GARCIA Marlies CUB
15 HSIAO Mei Yu HKG
16 OLABERRIA DORRONSORO Leire ESP
17 GONZALEZ Angie VEN
18 SANCHEZ Clara FRA
Standings after 5 events
1 HAMMER Sarah USA 15
2 TROTT Laura GBR 17
3 EDMONDSON Annette AUS 22
4 WHITTEN Tara CAN 27
5 D’HOORE Jolien BEL 33
6 WILD Kirsten NED 35
7 ROMANYUTA Evgeniya RUS 45
8 SHARAKOVA Tatsiana BLR 46
9 KIESANOWSKI Joanne NZL 48
10 WOJTYRA Malgorzata POL 49
11 MEJIAS GARCIA Marlies CUB 52
12 CALLE WILLIAMS Maria Luisa COL 58
13 HUANG Li CHN 61
14 OLABERRIA DORRONSORO Leire ESP 61
15 LEE Minhye KOR 63
16 SANCHEZ Clara FRA 69
17 HSIAO Mei Yu HKG 76
18 GONZALEZ Angie VEN 78
Women’s Omnium VI – 500m Time Trial
In the 20 minutes between the end of the Scratch Race and the start of the Time Trial, it became clear that there might be another factor that could affect the overall result. Clara Sanchez of France – drafted in, we assume, in place of France’s regular Omnium rider Pascale Jeuland to provide a backup for sprinters Virginie Cueff and Sandie Clair – was likely to be at the top of the timesheets and could split Trott and Hammer, pushing out the gap and helping Trott to move ahead.
It did mean that the only Heats that were really significant were the last three and the second one – Clara Sanchez vs Minhye Lee. Sanchez set a 35.451 – which would have been fast enough to win the event at the Worlds in April and did look capable of affecting the overall…one way or another…
Nobody challenged Sanchez’s time until the penultimate heat. Impressively, Edmondson went quicker with a 35.140; Whitten was only 8th on 36.509. That meant that Edmondson had clinched the Bronze but both Edmondson’s and Sanchez’s time were better than Trott’s personal best. If Trott could only come 3rd, Hammer might still have a chance.
Hammer was superb. Her time of 35.9004 was seven tenths faster than she’d managed in April and was good enough for 4th. But by the time she crossed the finish line, Trott had been Olympic Champion for almost a second. Her time of 35.1101 took her to the top of the pile – by some margin – and put her a point ahead of Hammer in the overall table.
Women’s Omnium 500m Time Trial Result
1 TROTT Laura GBR 35.1101
2 EDMONDSON Annette AUS 35.1402
3 SANCHEZ Clara FRA 35.4513
4 HAMMER Sarah USA 35.9004
5 MEJIAS GARCIA Marlies CUB 35.9125
6 HUANG Li CHN 36.3156
7 KIESANOWSKI Joanne NZL 36.3607
8 OLABERRIA DORRONSORO Leire ESP 36.3938
9 HSIAO Mei Yu HKG 36.4829
10 WHITTEN Tara CAN 36.50910
11 LEE Minhye KOR 36.54711
12 D’HOORE Jolien BEL 36.58512
13 SHARAKOVA Tatsiana BLR 36.74813
14 WOJTYRA Malgorzata POL 36.79014
15 WILD Kirsten NED 37.15215
16 ROMANYUTA Evgeniya RUS 37.30816
17 GONZALEZ Angie VEN 37.57817
18 CALLE WILLIAMS Maria Luisa COL 37.93718
1 TROTT Laura GBR 18
2 HAMMER Sarah USA 19
3 EDMONDSON Annette AUS 24
4 WHITTEN Tara CAN 37
5 D’HOORE Jolien BEL 45
6 WILD Kirsten NED 50
7 KIESANOWSKI Joanne NZL 55
8 MEJIAS GARCIA Marlies CUB 57
9 SHARAKOVA Tatsiana BLR 59
10 ROMANYUTA Evgeniya RUS 61
11 WOJTYRA Malgorzata POL 63
12 HUANG Li CHN 67
13 OLABERRIA DORRONSORO Leire ESP 69
14 SANCHEZ Clara FRA 72
15 LEE Minhye KOR 74
16 CALLE WILLIAMS Maria Luisa COL 76
17 HSIAO Mei Yu HKG 85
18 GONZALEZ Angie VEN 95
Men’s Keirin – Second Round
The first attempt to get the Second Round heats came to a halt as Juan Peralta of Spain came down at the start, prompting a restart. On the second attempt, Azizul Awang took station behind the Derny and as Great Britain’s Chris Hoy stormed to the front when the pacer pulled off, Awang tucked in behind him and hung in.
Hoy took the win from Awang and Teun Mulder of the Netherlands. The impressive Njisane Philip of Trinidad and Tobago just a whisker behind. Ominously, though, Hoy was still pulling away at the end.
There was a chaotic start to the second heat, but Perkins ended up sitting behind the Derny and led out the heat with Bourgain coming round and taking over at the front. On the run to the line Max Levy of Germany, Shane Perkins of Australia and Simon van Velthooven of New Zealand all swept past Bourgain. Perhaps he had the wrong wheels. Perhaps he simply misjudged the finish – he certainly seemed to throw very early for the line – just about where the finish line would normally be…
Men’s Keirin Finals
Phillip takes 7th place in the Minor Final – despite an awesome charge from the back by Bourgain – and the win – on top of the fourth place in the Sprint Final the day before – was a fitting end to a Fantastic Olympic Games for the Trini rider.
And so to the Kerin Final. The last 8 laps of the London 2012 track competition. The last 8 laps before the Paralympic competition – after which the Pringle is mothballed for 18 months while the basketball arena is dismantled and a road racing circuit built around it. And the last 8 laps of Chris Hoy’s incredible Olympic career.
It was Levy who sat on the back of the Derny with Perkins second and Hoy third. Awang was pushed to the back of the line, but the crowd kept half an eye on him. He’s dangerous from there.
Hoy started to back off, leaving himself space to race – and Awang spotted and opportunity and tried to fill the gap. His timing was off and the Derny pulled off as he was trying to come come in, but Hoy accelerated inside him and surged to the front of the race. It was a long, long effort at the head of a high class field and he gap he’d opened up was slowly eroded and as they hit the back straight on the final lap Levy started to pull alongside him.
Into turn 3 Levy was started to nudge ahead and it looked like Hoy would miss out on the Gold – if not worse. But this was Hoy’s opportunity to become the greatest British Olympian ever, and he wasn’t ready to let it go. He pulled enough back on Levy to stop him coming across and taking his line and then used the inside line to his advantage, pulling back ahead through turn 4 and pulling away as the line approached.
He said afterwards that he didn’t know where Levy was and that he just closed his eyes and lunged for the line. When he opened them again, he was Olympic Champion for the sixth time. A fitting end to a fantastic six days of competition.
There was one twist left. Although photographers have come forward since the event with evidence that seems to suggest otherwise, the commisaires couldn’t separate Mulder and van Velthooven – even with a photo – and declared a tie, awarding Bronze medals to both riders.
GOLD Chris Hoy GBR
SILVER Max Levy GER
BRONZE Teun Mulder NED
BRONZE Simon van Velthooven NZL