British cyclist Jason Kenny celebrated a fourth Olympic gold medal as Britain edged world champions New Zealand to win the men’s track cycling team sprint at the Rio Games Friday.
Kenny hailed teammates Philip Hindes and Callum Skinner after Britain set a new Olympic record with their time of 42.440sec to edge him closer to British legend Chris Hoy’s haul of six golds.
“They’re all special,” Kenny, who won the individual sprint at London 2012, said of his four gold medals.
“But the team event is always the best, no doubt about it. You get to win it with your mates.
“It’s always best to win it together. You’ve got someone to share it with. It’s a bit lonely winning it on your own,” the 28-year-old added.
Kenny has the chance to match the number of golds won by Hoy, who is Britain’s most decorated Olympian of all time, in Brazil with further medal opportunities in the individual sprint and keirin.
But he said he was trying to put that to the back of his mind.
“I’m just enjoying this one for now. We’ll see what happens tomorrow but obviously we’ll give it our best shot in every race,” said Kenny.
Britain recorded an average speed of 63.619 km/h to win, sending a large British contingent of supporters, including Hoy, into raptures.
Hoy, who win silver at the Sydney Games before collecting a gold at Athens 2004, three golds in Beijing in 2008 and two at London 2012 could be seen applauding following his compatriots’ triumph.
“I spotted him there waving and he came to see us the other day to give us some support and that’s really worthwhile,” said Skinner, who has been compared to his fellow Scot Hoy.
“It’s a flattering comparison but I’m just out there to do my best and try to make a name for myself,” said Skinner, who led the team home.
The 23-year-old is the new member of the team after Hindes and Kenny won gold with Hoy four years ago. Hoy retired in 2013.
“Callum has filled some big shoes but we knew he had it in him,” said Kenny.
“We’ve seen the things he’s done in training and I’m not surprised he’s come out here and stepped up to be the best in the world.”
– ‘Incredible ‘ –
New Zealand’s Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Ed Dawkins came home in 42.542sec at the Rio Olympic Velodrome while France beat Australia earlier in the bronze-medal match.
Britain has now won sprint team gold in three consecutive Olympics while Thursday’s dramatic victory comes just five months they finished sixth at the Track World Championships in London.
Both Kenny and Skinner admitted that the quality of their performance in Rio had come as a little bit of a surprise.
“We’d been running quite well in training so we had a rough idea about what we could do. But it has genuinely come as a surprise,” said Kenny.
Skinner said the British team had been “on the back foot” coming into the Games.
“That’s kind of what makes the win more special,” he told reporters.
“We set an Olympic world record in the final and beat the world champions. It’s just incredible. There was no better way to win it,” he beamed.