Tokyo Olympics: Jason Kenny wins seventh gold but Laura Kenny reign as omnium champion over
Jason Kenny became the first Briton to win seven Olympic gold medals with a spectacular defence of his men’s keirin title – but wife Laura’s reign as women’s omnium champion has ended.
Laura, GB’s most successful female athlete, recovered from a crash in her first event to finish sixth in her bid for a third successive omnium title.
Jason stunned the men’s keirin field as he sprinted clear with three laps remaining to claim victory.
It is his ninth Olympic medal overall.
The 33-year-old won silver in the team sprint to become GB’s most decorated Olympian earlier this week at the Izu Velodrome but was also unable to defend his individual sprint title.
His tally of seven golds is one more than former team-mate Chris Hoy.
“Seven gold medals is really special, when you look back on the ones you have already got, it seems pretty easy,” said Jason. “Then when you try and get more, you remember how hard it is.
“I have been disappointed this week, I haven’t been as competitive as I wanted to be. But in the keirin you can race hard and ride your luck a little bit.”
On his future, he added: “Before today I had all but given up, I was counting my career in days and races as opposed to years, but maybe I have bought myself more time now.”
Jason caught his five rivals by surprise with a long-range attack and held on to finish 0.763 seconds clear of Malaysia’s Azizulhasni Awang, with the Netherlands’ reigning world champion Harrie Lavreysen taking bronze.
Lavreysen made it three medals in Tokyo but had been aiming to emulate Jason’s achievement of five years ago by winning all three men’s sprint events.
He discussed his decision to attack early with BBC Sport: “I said [beforehand] if I get a gap [I’ll go] and he [performance director Stephen Park] said very unconvincingly ‘if it is a big one’. The first half a lap I was wondering if it was enough and then I thought ‘it is now or never’, so I will go for it.
“I have been racing every race like it is my last, just trying to survive really.
“I think because I ran every race like it was a final, when I got to the final I was pretty well rehearsed. For me it was [a case of] carry on doing what we have been doing.”
Laura Kenny, speaking about Jason’s performance, told BBC Sport: “The amount of people who came up to me afterwards and were like ‘I’d have counted him out of this’ – and to be honest, so had I!
“I was speaking to him last night and he was like ‘I just want to go home’. Then obviously he won – just typical Jason, that.”
Kenny progressed from a semi-final that also included compatriot and individual sprint bronze medallist Jack Carlin, but the 24-year-old failed to qualify for the final after finishing fourth.
Contesting the race to decide the minor positions, Carlin finished second to claim an eighth-placed overall finish.
In the omnium, Laura arrived at the fourth and final event – the points race – down in ninth position and 38 points adrift of top place after a fall in the scratch event.
Brought down in a pile-up on the penultimate lap of the competition’s first of four disciplines, Kenny then came out on top in the tempo race before finishing a disappointing 13th in the elimination race – widely considered her specialist event.
The Briton – along with nine others – received 16 points as the officials decided to award the fallen riders the next available number of points in the opening scratch race, placing Kenny 24 points behind the early lead.
The five-time Olympic gold medallist, who became the first British woman to win gold at three Olympic Games when she and Katie Archibald won the madison on Friday, recovered to fifth at the halfway stage after winning the tempo.
However, she was left with too much to do in the final points race – despite taking maximum points in the final sprint – as American Jennifer Valente took gold from Japan’s Yumi Kajihara and Dutch rider Kirsten Wild.
On the crash, Laura told BBC Sport: “I hit them so fast because I was just about to come over and bam, I literally had nowhere to go and I had a mountain to climb.
“[In] the tempo race I just rode off adrenaline and then we only had 20 minutes. When I got into the elimination race I just felt really tired instantly and I just thought ‘this is bad’.
“In the points race I had nothing to lose. I just wish we had got a lap and then obviously I would have jumped up the standings.”
On winning a gold in Tokyo, she said: “To be honest I was done after the Madison. You just hit such a high. That really was the race that we targeted. We put so much work into that and I think because we did win you just go ‘job done’.
“Worlds isn’t that far away is it?” she added on her future. “I don’t know. I don’t see myself quitting any time soon.”
Earlier, GB team-mate Katy Marchant finished sixth in the women’s sprint competition as she contested the race for fifth to eighth position.