x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Olympics: Anna Meares earns her 'just reward' in sprint cycling

Anna Meares earns some revenge on Victoria Pendleton as the Australian takes gold over the Briton in women's track cycling sprint. On the men's side, Sir Chris Hoy becomes the UK's most successful Olympian.

Australia's Anna Meares, left, shakes hands with Britain's Victoria Pendleton after winning the gold in cycling's track sprint event.
Australia's Anna Meares, left, shakes hands with Britain's Victoria Pendleton after winning the gold in cycling's track sprint event.

Anna Meares spoilt home favourite Victoria Pendleton's farewell to cycling last night as Sir Chris Hoy became Britain's most successful Olympian as he won a sixth gold medal.

Meares defeated Pendleton, who plans to retire after London 2012, 2-0 in the women's sprint final to give the Australian her first success of the Games.

It was sweet revenge for Meares, who lost to the British rider in the final four years ago in Beijing. She denied Pendleton a third gold medal, which would have made her the most successful British female athlete at the Olympics.

A delighted Meares said: "Victoria's such a hard-fought opponent and she's dominated the sport for so long. It's been such a difficult challenge and to be able to win the Olympic title for me, it's so special.

"I've tried so much and worked so hard for a long period of time and I've asked a lot of people around me to do the same so it feels like this is a just reward."

Pendleton thought she had got off to a strong start in the final after beating Meares by one thousandth of a second. But the defending champion was relegated a few minutes later for coming out of the sprinter lane.

It was the second time she had been punished at the Games after she was part of the British sprint team penalised for an illegal takeover.

Meares had started the first leg on the outside of the track. She produced her effort in the final lap to move next to Pendleton in the final curve. Meares touched her rival with her left arm in the home stretch in a furious sprint to the line and officials needed a photo finish before announcing that Pendleton had won the leg by one thousand of a second, the smallest possible margin.

Dave Brailsford, the British cycling director of performance, was then spotted chatting with officials seconds before the speaker said that Pendleton was relegated.

Pendleton never looked in contention in the second bout after Meares forced her to go in front. Meares then rounded Pendleton on the outside to claim the gold medal in track cycling's preeminent event.

A magnanimous Pendleton said: "I am glad it got to that stage because I believe she's the best rider on the field.

"Anna and myself in the final. We have met many a time. I wish her all the best. I am glad to say that this is the last time I have to go through this."

Of her demotion in the first race, she said: "I was really annoyed because I was sure that she touched me and it caused me to move up."

Meanwhile, Hoy created history as he held off a fierce challenge from Germany's Maximilian Levy to win the men's keirin race.

The success, added to his victory in the team sprint at the Games, ensures that on gold medals alone, he overtakes Sir Steve Redgrave's tally of five gold medals for Britain, all of which were won in rowing events at consecutive Games.

Hoy won the sprint, keirin and team sprint four years ago to add to his kilometre time trial crown from Athens in 2004.

He said: "I'm in shock, you try and compose yourself but it's surreal. I wanted to win gold in front of my home crowd.

"I saw everyone stepping up to the plate and thankfully it worked out for me too," said Hoy.

Asked if he would compete at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, Hoy said his preference would be to end his career at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"Not in an Olympic Games. I'm 99.9 per cent sure that I won't be in Rio. Glasgow 2014, if I can keep going that would be the dream ending for me.

"This is the perfect end to my Olympic career."

A strong night for Britain on the final day of racing in the velodrome was highlighted by Laura Trott winning the women's track cycling omnium event.

Victory in the 500m time trial, the last race of the competition, ensured that she defeated her American rival Sarah Hammer by just one point.

It was the 20 year old's second gold after she was part of the victorious team pursuit line-up.

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