By Matt Westby, SkySport
Great Britain’s men’s sprint team produced a brilliant performance to win Olympic gold for the third Games in succession on the opening day of track cycling at Rio 2016. Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes and Callum Skinner defeated world champions New Zealand in an Olympic-record time of 42.440 seconds in a closely fought final.
Kenny is now level with Sir Bradley Wiggins on four Olympic gold medals and his outstanding display on Thursday suggested he is in good enough form to add two more in the individual sprint and keirin later in the week.
Hindes takes his tally to two Olympic titles, having been part of the triumphant London 2012 sprint team, while 23-year-old Skinner claimed his first gold after coming of age with the best performance of his career.
The victory was a remarkable turnaround for both the team and Skinner from March’s World Championships, when they finished only sixth after the Scot had been distanced by Hindes and Kenny in qualifying.
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Five months on, Britain trailed New Zealand by 0.035 seconds after the first 250m courtesy of a searing 16.995-second opening lap from Ethan Mitchell, but then Kenny conjured a superb second lap to put the defending champions 0.086 seconds ahead.
Skinner continued to pull away from New Zealand in the final lap to snatch an unfancied victory by 0.102 seconds.
Britain and New Zealand were the two outstanding teams throughout the competition, with Britain breaking the Olympic record to qualify fastest and then New Zealand breaking it again to set the fastest time in the first round.
France were the best of the rest, beating Australia by 0.155 seconds to win bronze.