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Victory at a Trott for GB cyclists in women's team pursuit

Published 13/08/2016

Left to right, Steven Burke, Owain Doull, Ed Clancy and Sir Bradley Wiggins with their gold medals following victory in the men's team pursuit final
Left to right, Steven Burke, Owain Doull, Ed Clancy and Sir Bradley Wiggins with their gold medals following victory in the men's team pursuit final

Cyclist Laura Trott made history on so-called Super Saturday as Team GB's gold rush continued.

Trott, and team mates Joanna Rowsell Shand, Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker, won a gold medal in the women's team pursuit at the Rio Olympics, defeating the US with a world record time of 4 minutes, 10.26 seconds.

In doing so, 24-year-old Trott became the first British female athlete to win three gold medals - adding to the two she won at the London Olympics in 2012.

Within the hour, Welsh cyclist Becky James added another medal - a silver - in the women's Keirin.

The 24-year-old spent the vast majority of the solo race towards the back of the pack, but made a late surge for the finish line on the final bend to earn a podium place behind Elis Ligtlee of the Netherlands.

Barker, 21, from Cardiff, is a two-time world champion in the team pursuit and is competing in her first Olympics.

She has previously represented Wales at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, winning silver in the points race and bronze in the scratch.

Matt Cosgrove, performance director at Welsh Cycling, said: "I would like to congratulate Elinor Barker on her Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit with Team GB.

"This is Elinor's first Olympic Games, and the gold medal will add to her multiple world titles achieved as both a junior and senior rider.

"The quartet broke the world record in each of their rides, and make deserved Olympic champions.

"Elinor has been supported in her career by Welsh Cycling as she progressed to the British Cycling programme, and it is a proud moment to see her achieve on the Olympic stage."

Anne Adams-King, chief executive officer at Welsh Cycling, added: "On behalf of Welsh Cycling, I would like to congratulate Elinor on her gold medal, alongside Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell Shand and Katie Archibald.

"It is fantastic to see Elinor achieve at the highest level in cycling.

"She was inspired by Nicole Cooke's gold in Beijing, and I'm confident there will be young girls in Wales inspired by Elinor, eager to take up cycling.

"Elinor has shown talent combined with hard-work leads to success, and she is now an inspiration to us all in Wales to cycle."

The silver medal for James marks a remarkable recovery for the Abergavenny-born cyclist after recovering from a career-threatening knee injury and a cancer scare.

Her boyfriend, Wales rugby union star George North, tweeted: "Words can't describe how proud I am! Everything she's been through. What an absolute hero."

Mr Cosgrove said: "Her medal is much deserved following years of hard-work to return to this level of racing.

"Becky has been a talented cyclist from a young age, winning her first world titles as a junior cyclist, and winning medals for Wales in the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

"To see her win silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics is a proud moment for Wales, and Welsh Cycling."

James' silver in Rio came after a torrid two-year spell that saw her overcome serious knee and shoulder injuries and a cancer scare.

Speaking after her win, James told the BBC: "I was so desperate for that medal."

She said having her family in Rio made it even more special.

"I've got 10 of them here which is absolutely incredible. My mum's never been on a long-haul flight. My mum and dad have never watched a race together, apart from the Worlds this year, so it's just incredible," she said.

James also paid tribute to the support she received during a "tough" two years, and added: "I think it's going to be a medal that we've all won together."

The day got off to a good start for Team GB as the "gladiators" powered their way to rowing gold in the men's eight less than an hour after their compatriots took silver in the women's event.

The medals came on what sport fans hope will be a repeat of Super Saturday from the London 2012 Olympics as track and field champions Greg Rutherford, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill try to defend their titles later.

In winning the men's eight, the rowers brought Team GB's gold medal haul up to eight, while the girls won Team GB's first ever Olympic medal in the women's eight.

Scott Durant, Tom Ransley, Andrew T Hodge, Matt Gotrel, Pete Reed, Paul Bennett, Matt Langridge, William Satch and cox Phelan Hill followed up the women's silver by topping the podium in the final race at the Lagoa.

After the race, Hill told the BBC: "These guys were magnificent today. Absolute gladiators."

Hodge said of the race: "That was the angriest, the fiercest, ruthless, absolutely everything in that. It was very, very aggressive. I mean, that was fist fight as it comes. That was really good."

A late surge saw the women just snatch silver from Romania in the exciting final moment.

Katie Greves, Melanie Wilson, Frances Houghton, Polly Swann, Jessica Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Karen Bennett, Zoe Lee and cox Zoe de Toledo crossed the line in six minutes 3.98 seconds - just 0.12 seconds ahead of the bronze medallists.

Houghton hailed all the women who helped get the team to the Olympic podium, saying: "It's not only about us nine girls. There was a group of 14 who came into the team at the beginning of the year. For every single one of those girls we were carrying that today.

"This fifth Olympics has been really great. We've really tried to make sure we've had a good time. Even before the race we sat around and we were laughing and joking together.

"Sport can be so much pressure but at the same time, sport is supposed to be fun and a great experience. It's something you do that you enjoy and you pursue because you like to be challenged."

Meanwhile, Andy Murray will go for Olympic gold again after beating Kei Nishikori in the tennis semi-final.

The defending champion, who is now guaranteed his third Olympic medal, will play either Rafael Nadal or Juan Martin Del Potro in the final on Sunday.

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