By Martyn Herman
TOKYO, Aug 8 (Reuters) – American Jennifer Valente recovered from a crash to clinch historic gold in the women’s omnium on Sunday to close an exciting week of track cycling at the Izu Velodrome.
The 26-year-old showed true courage to come back and become the first American woman to win an Olympic track title and the first from her country to do so since 2000.
After constant display, the time trial specialist was comfortably ahead on the scoreboard towards the end of the points race, the last element of the three-hour four-part endurance event, when she fell to the ground.
But after she dusted herself off she rejoined the race and stayed out of trouble to take the title with 124 points.
“There were some bumps, falling in points races is never ideal. I was just trying to get back on my bike, make sure I was okay and get back in the race as soon as possible,” said Valente, who won the bronze medal in the team chase.
“Olympic gold? It’s hard to believe, I’ll take it in, but I haven’t done it yet.”
On a day of firsts, world champion Yumi Kajihara, who also fell at the end, took the silver medal with 110 points, the first Olympic track cycling medal for a Japanese woman.
Dutch veteran Kirsten Wild, 38, claimed bronze, her first Olympic podium despite being an eight-time world champion on the track.
“I am super happy. Each medal is special, I cannot say that one is more than another, but this is a great medal for me,” Wild said.
Britain’s Laura Kenny’s hopes of becoming the first track cyclist to win three gold medals in a specific event after her victories in London and Rio, never fully recovered after being involved in a major accident towards climax. from the first 30-lap scratch race.
The dangers of wheel-to-wheel running around a sloping track at 50 kilometers per hour were dramatically illustrated when Italy’s Elisa Balsamo fell, causing chaos behind when eight more cyclists collided, with bikes and bodies flying in all directions.
Kenny was unscathed, unlike Poland’s Daria Pikulik, who was unable to continue in the competition.
The five-time Olympic champion won the tempo race to return to competition, but an early exit in the elimination race left her too far behind.
The consolation for Kenny was that her husband Jason Kenny won the men’s keirin event, raising his Olympic record to seven gold medals, the most for any British Olympian.
(Edited in Spanish by Carlos Calvo Pacheco)