Team GB claims first velodrome gold at Tokyo Olympics with men’s omnium victory

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 11:31 am
Gold medalist Matthew Walls of Team Great Britain, poses on the podium during the medal ceremony after the Men's Omnium final of the track cycling (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Team GB has won its first gold in the velodrome at the Tokyo Olympics as Matt Walls claimed victory in the men’s omnium.

The 23-year-old rode smartly throughout the event to win with a comfortable final margin of 24 points from Campbell Stewart of New Zealand.

How the race unfolded

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Walls, who won the opening scratch race, went into the deciding points race with a narrow advantage of just six points but gained a lap on the field early on to take control, and could then mark his rivals for the remainder of the 100-lap event.

The omnium has changed format for these Games, with four events now squeezed into one testing afternoon of racing.

Walls, the European champion who tested positive for Covid-19 in March, jointly led alongside Jan Willem Van Schip and Benjamin Thomas after the tempo race, but then outlasted the pair in the elimination race to take a narrow advantage into the decider.

And he wasted little time in taking control as he gained a lap alongside American Gavin Hoover, winning the second sprint in the process.

That gave him a cushion of 30 points over the field, and from then on he could mark the likes of reigning champion Elia Viviani, Thomas and Stewart to the finish.

What Matt Walls said

Walls said: “I managed to get a good lead coming to the end. It’s been a hard day. I came into that points race with a bit of a lead which was nice, it gave me a bit of breathing room.

“Thank you to all my family and friends, I wouldn’t be here without them. Especially my parents when I was younger growing up, they travelled around the country with me and there’s no chance I’d be here without them.”

Team GB’s first velodrome gold at Tokyo Games

Britain had been made to settle for silver in the women’s team pursuit and men’s team sprint earlier in the week, while another event they had previously dominated – the men’s team pursuit – ended in a disappointing seventh place.

But Walls – held out of that pursuit in order to focus entirely on the omnium – ended Britain’s wait for gold on the fourth day of action in the velodrome.

The Oldham-born rider tested positive for Covid-19 in late March, disrupting his season on the road with Bora-Hansgrohe, returning to competitive action at the Tour de Suisse in June.

A version of this article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com