Kenny claims gold as Team GB jump for historic glory

TRACK cyclist Jason Kenny hailed Sir Chris Hoy as the inspiration behind his second triumph of the London 2012 Olympics, after he and the four-man equestrian jumping team both plundered gold for Great Britain yesterday.

Kenny followed last week’s team sprint glory with success in the individual event, while Britain’s showjumpers won gold for the first time since 1952 following a jump-off with Holland, and gymnast Beth Tweddle claimed bronze on the uneven bars.

It took Team GB’s tally to 18 gold medals – just one shy of their brilliant Beijing 2008 haul and only two away from their all-time record for a Games – with realistic hopes of several more today, notably in the men’s triathlon and track cycling.

The Velodrome once again showcased Britain’s utter dominance on the track as Kenny, controversially preferred to record-breaking Hoy for the sole individual sprint spot, justified the gamble by defeating French world champion Gregory Bauge.

And the Bolton 24-year-old admitted the pressure of living up to the flying Scotsman’s standards helped elicit a 2-0 win over Bauge.

“It’s not something I’d thought about until I went out for the last ride,” said Kenny. “Then it dawned on me that if Chris was here there’s no way he would lose this one. He has that real killer instinct which is why he has so many medals. It was just a case of getting up there and justifying my place.”

Kenny’s victory merely added to an aura of invincibility among the British riders, who have won five of the seven gold medals at the Velodrome so far.

Today could see three more, with Victoria Pendleton in the women’s sprint finals, Laura Trott in the women’s omnium and Hoy vying for a sixth Olympic gold in the men’s keirin.

At Greenwich Park, Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles took Holland to a jump-off, which the hosts duly won to end a 60-year wait for any kind of Olympic showjumping gold medal. While two of the three Dutch riders incurred penalties, the GB trio of Skelton, a veteran of six Olympic Games, Maher and Charles all cleared the shortened course, sending the 23,000-strong crowd delirious.

“It has taken me 54 years,” said Skelton, who rode Big Star. “It is unbelievable and what a place to do it. I have got a wonderful horse and it’s a dream come true. It is great for our country and great for our sport.”

Brash lauded the partisan crowd, saying: “I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like this again. It really has been the best day of my life.”

Tweddle ended her quest for an Olympic medal by finishing third at the North Greenwich Arena and, despite being tipped as a possible gold medallist, insisted she was perfectly content with bronze.

“I could say ‘what if’ but I’m not disappointed in the slightest,” said the 27-year-old, who finished fourth in Beijing and has ruled out competing at the next games in Rio.

“Any medal, any colour is what I always said I wanted, so I’m extremely happy.”