British sprint team roar to victory as Grainger debunks doubters

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PEDAL POWER: The men’s sprint team sent New Zealand down under in their final.

GREAT BRITAIN have not won a world championship in men’s sprint cycling since 2005, but they are now unbeaten in Olympic competition since 2008, as Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Callum Skinner eclipsed favourites New Zealand to set a new Olympic record and claim gold.

The turbo-charged trio, who finished sixth at the recent Track World Championships, posted a time of 42.440 seconds in the final, as Kenny nabbed his fourth Olympic gold medal to catapult himself onto the list of all-time Olympic greats.

Hindes snatched his second gold after his appearance in the same event at London 2012, while a delighted Skinner, the replacement for legendary speed merchant Chris Hoy, picked up his first Olympic medal.

“It’s not been an easy road so to come here and be Olympic champion is incredible,” he said. “We’ve been working so hard and it shows it pays off.”

Elsewhere in a hot and sweaty velodrome, Team GB’s women’s pursuit team demolished the world record in their qualifying heat, as the quartet of Katie Archibald, Laura Trott, Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell-Shand posted a ridiculous time of four minutes 13.260 seconds to finish six seconds ahead of their nearest rivals.

In the men’s team pursuit, Bradley Wiggins, Owain Doull, Steven Burke and Ed Clancy also laid down a serious marker as they completed their 16 laps in a time of three minutes 51.94 seconds, just short of the world record but almost four seconds ahead of the Danish team which qualified second-fastest.

Meanwhile, Katherine Grainger became Britain’s most decorated female Olympian as she clinched the silver medal in the women’s double sculls alongside partner Victoria Thornley.

The 40-year-old has now won five Olympic medals, four silvers and a gold, across five separate games, but the pair were not expected to make the podium here in Rio, having not even been named in the official squad until June 23.

In the aftermath of her stunning achievement, five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave said: “It was amazing. This is the best medal Kath has won, because of the hard road she had to get there.

“What she has done for the sport, for women’s sport, is incredible. I am immensely proud of her.”

There was further good news for Team GB in the inaugural men’s rugby sevens tournament, as they defeated South Africa via a stunning defensive display in their semi-final before capitulating to world champions Fiji, who picked up their country’s first Olympic medal of any kind, in the final.

In truth, Britain were utterly outclassed in a one-sided final, but they can be extremely proud of their efforts in securing silver since they were not expected to medal in Brazil.

David Florence and Richard Hounslow collected Britain’s third medal of the day as they won silver in the men’s C2 canoeing slalom, adding to their silver from 2012.

In other events, Justin Rose hit a stunning hole-in-one in the golf, while Andy Murray progressed to the tennis quarter finals following a hairy 6-1 2-6 6-3 victory over fiery Italian Fabio Fognini, although women’s number one Johanna Konta bowed out after losing 6-1 6-2 to second seed Angelique Kerber.

The aquatics stadium saw history made as iron man Michael Phelps became the first Olympian to win four consecutive golds in the same event as he massacred the field in the 100m butterfly, while US star gymnast Simone Biles, arguably the best athlete at the games, won an expected gold in the women’s all-around gymnastics.

Day eight will feature the opening of the track and field competitions, with Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson featuring in the first four events of the women’s heptathlon, while Team GB will hope to pick up more medals in the men’s team pursuit cycling final, women’s pair and lightweight double sculls rowing, equestrian dressage and men’s team fencing.

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