Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

Bradley Wiggins on Wednesday became the first Briton for 40 years to claim a complete set of Olympic medals at one Games, after he and partner Rob Hayles picked up a bronze in cycling's Madison endurance race.

The British riders had literally to pick themselves up and grind their way back into contention after disaster struck Hayles, for the second Olympics running, with 90 of the contest's 200 laps to go.

Just as he had been in Sydney, the 31-year-old was brought crashing to the ground, leaving his body marked with welts “beefburgers” in cycling parlance and his bicycle with two damaged wheels.

Unlike in 2000 however, when the crash struck with two laps to go and left the Portsmouth rider with a broken collar-bone, Wednesday's accident came early enough to leave him and Wiggins with a chance of getting the show back on the road.

It still needed a supreme effort for the pair to put enough points on the board in a race determined by 10 short sprints spaced evenly through its duration to salvage a podium place.

The highlight was a superb sustained sprint with less than a sixth of the distance to go, which briefly brought them level with the Swiss, the eventual silver medallists behind Australia.

“We chose our moment very well, I thought,” said a delighted Hayles who, like Wiggins, also picked up silver in the team pursuit. “I have been waiting for this. We always talk about Sydney. Due to the crash we missed quite a few opportunities. If it was a car accident, it would be my fault.”

Wiggins, the individual pursuit gold medallist, emphasised the importance of staying calm after the accident: “To panic …would have been the wrong thing to do.”

There was disappointment for Britain in the evening's other main event a sprint event called the “Keirin” (apparently the Japanese for fight) yet which is led around in its early stages by an underpowered moped of the type the French call a “mobylette”.

Outlandishly enough, Britain boasts the present world champion at this discipline in the shape of the treetrunk-thighed Jamie Staff, who looked to have done enough in his semi-final to book a seat in the six-man final.

It emerged subsequently, however, that he had been, in effect, disqualified for “moving down towards the inside of the track when a rival was already there”.

Get alerts on News when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Comments have not been enabled for this article.

Follow the topics in this article