Britain wins another gold, silver in Olympic track cycling
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Joanna Rowsell-Shand was still cherishing her latest Olympic gold medal when teammate Becky James rallied on the final lap of the women's keirin to win a silver of her own.
Yes, another British medal haul is underway at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
The squad of Rowsell-Shand, Katie Archibald, Laura Trott and Elinor Barker beat the world champion United States in the finals of the women's team pursuit Saturday, their second straight victory in the event - in record time - giving their powerful track program its third gold medal.
James gave them their fourth overall when she took silver behind Dutch rider Elise Ligtlee.
''All the coaching and support we get, the performance support, it's all based around peaking every four years,'' said Rowsell-Shand, part of the team that also beat the U.S. at the London Games.
Britain won seven of the 10 gold medals possible on the track four years ago. Its men's sprint team and men's pursuit team have already won gold in Rio, and defending Olympic champion Jason Kenny is due to meet teammate Callum Skinner in the sprint finals on Sunday.
That means the British are already assured of another gold and silver.
''Pretty amazing,'' James said of the success. ''I'm still buzzing off it.''
The British women's pursuit team actually trailed the Americans after the first quarter of the race, but pulled ahead by nearly a second by the midway point. The four women cruised to the finish in 4 minutes, 12.454 seconds, breaking the record they set in the semifinal round.
The U.S. team of Kelly Catlin, Chloe Dygert, Jennifer Valente and Sarah Hammer took silver in 4:12.454, while Canada beat New Zealand for bronze in 4:14.627.
''I'm still so proud of the team and what we accomplished,'' Hammer said. ''I feel like we're kind of the little team that could going against the big `ole machine of Great Britain.''
It was a busy third day of competition at the velodrome, and not just for riders.
A spectacular crash in the second heat of the women's keirin Friday morning left a gouge about halfway up the track midway through the first and second turns. Officials patched it up with duct tape and then used wood filler and sanded it down between a break in competition.
During the same break, workers in the stands appeared to do some repair work on seats.
All their sawing, drilling and clanging was over by the time the night session began, and would have been drowned out anyway by the roars from the crowd packed inside the broiling venue.
The heat began building in the night session as the pursuit finalists took to the track, and a heavily pro-Britain crowd - Union Jack flags again flying from the railings - let out a roar.
The Americans on their high-tech, left-side drive bikes got off the start line quickly, taking a half-second lead on their rivals by the first 500 meters. But that lead was wiped out over the next two laps, and the two heavyweights began trading the lead for several more circuits.
By the midway point, the British team had a half-second lead and was firmly in control.
All that was left to decide over the final 2,000 meters was whether the British team would break its own world record, and even that was hardly a question. The team smashed it by 2 seconds.
James nearly gave the Brits another gold medal in the keirin.
Ligtlee went to the front on the final lap of the six-rider sprinting event, while James was last in the field. But she took to the outside through the first and second corners and overcame three rivals down the backstretch, putting a charge into the partisan crowd.
The extra distance of riding outside proved to be a bit too much to overcome.
Ligtlee held on during the drag-race to the finish line, giving the Netherlands another cycling medal to go with the three won by Anna van der Breggen and Tom Dumoulin on the road.
James was content with silver in the event retired British star Victoria Pendleton won four years ago, while Anna Meares of Australia walked away with her sixth Olympic track cycling medal.
''This is my first Olympics,'' Ligtlee said, ''and my dream has always been to win a gold medal. But when I started here I didn't know what to expect. And now here I am, standing with the gold medal.''