PETER Kennaugh became the first person from the Isle of Man in a century to claim an Olympic gold medal after helping Great Britain storm to victory in the men’s team pursuit in the London Velodrome at the 2012 Olympics on Friday evening.
Not since 22-year-old Sulby man Sidney Swann won gold in the British men’s eights rowing team at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden has anyone from the Isle of Man graced the top step of the podium at the Olympics.
However, that all changed on day seven of the XXX Olympiad when 23-year-old Kennaugh from Onchan produced several stunning rides to help Britain claim yet another gold medal on the track and successfully defend the title they won in Beijing four years ago.
Fellow Manxman and current world road race champion Mark Cavendish was a studio guest for the BBC at the London Velodrome and rightly predicted that the quartet ‘wouldn’t just win, but would set a new world record along the way’.
And he wasn’t wrong.
Such was Team GB’s dominance in the event that the British quartet - also featuring Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Pete’s Team Sky colleague Geraint Thomas - broke their own world record twice in three races on their way to defeating rivals Australia in fine style.
The quartet were immediately into their stride in Thursday’s qualifying round as they swept aside the opposition to set a time of three minutes 52.499s to book their place in Friday’s first round proper.
That time was more than three seconds quicker than second-placed Australia and broke their own record set at this year’s world championships in Melbourne along the way, much to the delight of the home crowd.
New Zealand were third after posting a time of three mins 57.607s while Denmark, Russian, Spain, Colombia and the Netherlands were the other teams to qualify.
These results set up a knock-out clash between GB and Denmark in the last heat but the Britons were once again in imperious form as they brushed aside the Danes by almost five seconds to set up a head-to-head gold medal contest with Australia in the final.
In front of a capacity crowd in good voice - including road racing stars Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins - the race was nip and tuck in the early stages as lead-out man Clancy and Australia’s star rider Jack Bobridge both produced good shifts at the front in the opening laps to set the tone.
GB soon opened up a healthy lead but the Aussie quartet of Bobridge, Glenn O’Shea, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn began to hit back towards the halfway point of the four-kilometre race and brought the advantage down to less than 0.2 seconds.
However, the British quartet showed their class and pulled away in the second half of the race, producing several superb laps to comfortably clinch gold in another new world record time of three minutes, 51.659 seconds, nearly three seconds ahead of their rivals from Down Under, sparking scenes of jubilation among the 6,000-strong audience.
Reaction and photographs
on pages 62 and 63