Matt Walls wins omnium to land Britain's first Olympic gold in velodrome track cycling

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Matt Walls - Track cycling, Tokyo Olympics 2020 live: Matt Walls wins omnium to land Britain's first gold medal in velodrome - REUTERS
Matt Walls - Track cycling, Tokyo Olympics 2020 live: Matt Walls wins omnium to land Britain's first gold medal in velodrome - REUTERS
  • Team GB's Matt Walls wins historic omnium gold medal

  • Team GB rider Jack Carlin through to men's sprint semis

  • Jason Kenny's reign as Olympic sprint champion is over

  • Team GB's Katy Marchant crashes out of keirin competition

  • Dutchwoman Shanne Braspennincx wins Olympic keirin title

Four months ago Matt Walls had to be pulled from racing in the spring classics after testing positive for Covid-19. On Thursday, the 23-year-old from Oldham won Britain's first gold medal of the week in the velodrome and Team GB's 50th of any colour at the Games.

To say Walls was a surprise winner would be a little unfair. He is the reigning European omnium champion and won a bronze medal at the world track championships in Berlin last year.

Walls had also been kept completely fresh for this omnium, with Charlie Tanfield brought in from the cold to ride the first round of the team pursuit on Tuesday after Ed Clancy suffered a flare-up of his long standing back issues.

But he is one of the least-heralded. Walls, who races for WorldTour team Bora-Hansgrohe, is not someone who has done much press. He has virtually no public profile. “He’s just a good lad isn’t he?” said Jason Kenny, his room-mate out here in Japan, after finishing eighth in the individual sprint.

Kenny’s exit relatively early in proceedings, while 24-year-old team-mate Jack Carlin advanced in some style to Friday's final rounds, gave the day a real changing-of-the-guard feel.

Walls was at the vanguard of that. He set out his stall early on, winning the first of the omnium’s four disciplines: the scratch race. He then finished second in the tempo race behind Dutchman Jan Willem van Schip and second again in the elimination race behind Italy’s defending champion Elia Viviani.

Heading into the points race, the final discipline, Walls with 114pts led Van Schip by 4pts and France’s Benjamin Thomas by 8pts. It was not a huge margin but he never looked in any danger of giving it away.

The 100-lap points race sees riders go for sprints every 10 laps, with the first five riders to cross the line awarded points. Any rider who can lap the field is awarded bonus 20 points.

Walls immediately consolidated his lead, taking a lap early in proceedings and banking five points for winning a sprint en route.

That meant he extended his lead to 29 points and from then on he was able to mark his rivals, following wheels and picking off the odd point as and when. Viviani took a lap to move up into second place but was never within 20 points of Walls, who eventually won by 24 points from New Zealand’s Campbell Stewart with Viviani third a further five points back.

Day four of track cycling, as it happened . . .

10:30 AM

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09:52 AM

'Thank you to all my family and friends'

Speaking after taking gold and winning Britain's 50th medal in Tokyo, Matt Walls said: ​"I managed to get a good lead coming into the end. It's been a hard day but I came into that points race with a bit of a lead and breathing room. Thank you to all my family and friends, I wouldn't be here without them, especially my parents."

Eagle-eyed readers out there will recall that earlier this year Telegraph Sport featured Matt Walls, along with Tom Pidcock, in its round-up of young British riders to watch out for in the future.

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09:50 AM

The moment Walls sealed gold . . .

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09:44 AM

He's come a long way since these were taken . . .

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09:37 AM

Wonder Walls: Team GB rider wins omnium gold!

He's done it. The 23-year-old from Oldham rode a very clever points race to become Britain's first male to win the Olympic omnium gold – Ed Clancy won bronze in 2012 and Mark Cavendish took home silver in 2016. Campbell Stewart of New Zealand took second, while defending champion Elia Viviani of Italy had to settle with bronze.

In the end Matt Walls won comfortably with a margin of 24 points from Stewart. 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.

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.

After gaining a lap alongside American Gavin Hoover, while also winning the second sprint of the 25km race, Walls gained a 30-point lead over the field. With that lead Walls was able to ride defensively, marking out the likes of Viviani and Stewart, before taking gold.

09:33 AM

Omnium points race | 20 laps to go

Matt Walls is monitoring Elia Viviani, not giving the Italian a millimetre on this 250-metre track. All the Briton needs to do now is mark the moves and not give anybody a lap and he will be crowned Olympic champion in a short while.

09:31 AM

Omnium points race | 30 laps to go

Elia Viviani gains a couple of points on Matt Walls, while Benjamin Thomas adds a single point to his tally. But it is the Briton who leads with three sprints remaining – with 20 points up for grabs. As long as Walls stays upright and does not lose a lap to Viviani or Thomas, he will be winning gold here today.

09:26 AM

Walls extends his lead . . .

. . . to 30 points over Elia Viviani after winning the race's sixth sprint.

09:25 AM

Viviani climbs up to second

Elia Viviani moves up to silver medal position, Team GB rider Matt Walls leads the Italian by 28pts.

09:24 AM

Walls looking good for gold at midway point

Having gained a lap on the field, as it stands Matt Walls leads the men's omnium competition by 28 points, ahead of Benjamin Thomas (France), with Jan-Willem van Schip (Netherlands) in third place.

09:21 AM

Omnium points race | 60 laps to go

Olympic champion Elia Viviani has clipped off the front, gaining half a lap on the field. The Italian has Yauheni Karaliok (Belarus) and Roger Kluge (Germany) for company.

09:16 AM

Team GB rider Walls extends his lead

Matt Walls gains five points at the second sprint to extend his lead in the omnium, while Gavin Hoover (United States), er, hoovers up a few points to climb up to fourth overall.

09:14 AM

Men's omnium points race is under way

And this is the race that will decide who takes home the gold medal. Raced over 100 laps (25km), there are sprints every 10 laps which are worth five, three, two and one point for the first four riders over the line. Again riders can gain points for lapping the field, and face deductions for losing a lap. It is in no way very confusing and almost impossible to live blog. The headline news, however, is that Team GB rider Matt Walls started as overall leader and is looking sharp.

09:07 AM

Nicholas Paul 1 Denis Dmitriev 2

Wow. Denis Dmitriev won the third match but the two riders almost collided. The race commissaires had a good look at the replays before giving the thumbs up to the Russian who will now go into tomorrow's semi-finals. Just one more race of note to go, the men's omnium points race which will decide the gold medal.

09:02 AM

Nicholas Paul relegated . . .

. . .and so the Trinidad and Tobago rider will have to race Denis Dmitriev again with their men's sprint match evenly poised at 1-1.

08:58 AM

Braspennincx lands women's keirin Olympic title!

Just as she did in the earlier rounds, Shanne Braspennincx made easy work of that as the Dutchwoman powered to Olympic gold ahead of New Zealand rider Ellesse Andrews, while Lauriane Genest of Canada will take home a bronze medal. This has been a pretty decent meeting for the Dutch who also won the men's team sprint.

08:49 AM

Nicholas Paul 2 Denis Dmitriev 0

The Russian did not appear too happy with the result, but he will not be taking home a medal in the men's sprint from Tokyo. Nicholas Paul of Trinidad and Tobago, however, may well do so tomorrow.

08:44 AM

Jack Carlin 2 Maximilian Levy 0

Jack Carlin again impresses as he goes through to the semi-finals.

08:40 AM

Harrie Lavreysen 2 Jason Kenny 0

The Briton's reign as Olympic sprint champion is over. Jason Kenny rode an aggressive race going out from some distance, but he was no match for the world champion who reeled the Briton back in.

08:39 AM

Jeffrey Hoogland 2 Sébastien Vigier 0

The Dutchman, once again, made easy work of the Frenchman with Jeffrey Hoogland progressing to tomorrow's semi-finals.

08:36 AM

Team GB rider Walls takes lead in omnium

It is au revoir for Benjamin Thomas who is the next to be eliminated. The Frenchman is followed by Stewart Campbell (New Zealand), Jan-Willem van Schip (Netherlands) and Théry Schir (Switzerland) before Olympic champion Elia Viviani beats Matt Walls to win the elimination race, but the Briton takes the lead with one race to go.

08:31 AM

Team GB rider Walls still in the game

It is sayonara for Eiya Hashimoto (Japan), before the field also bids farewell to Gavin Hoover (United States), Artyom Zakharov (Kazakhstan), Kenny De Ketele (Belgium), Sam Welsford (Australia), Niklas Larsen (Denmark) and Albert Torres (Spain) – Matt Walls is still in the race and is riding cleverly to stay in contention for a medal.

08:27 AM

Riders falling like skittles

David Maree (South Africa) was handed a pass after he was eliminated, but there was no such luck for Mark Downey (Ireland), Yauheni Karaliok (Belarus), Roger Kluge (Germany) or Szymon Sajnok (Poland). Maree eventually was booted out, before Christos Volikakis (Greece) was next to go.

08:23 AM

Müller is elimianted

Andreas Müller, the 41-year-old Austrian rider, was the first to be eliminated.

08:22 AM

Back to the men's omnium race . . .

. . . and it is the turn of the elimination race, or the devil takes hindmost for cycling fans of a certain vintage. In summary, the rider at the back of the field after every other lap is eliminated. There was a delayed start after one of the riders has a mechanical malfunction of some sort.

08:15 AM

Women's keirin final line-up confirmed

Bit of a shock in the second semi-final heat as world champion Emma Hinze of Germany finishes last and will not contest for medals later on this morning. Dutchwoman Shanne Braspennincx strolled through ahead of Canadians Kelsey Mitchell and Lauriane Genest.

And here's who will contest for the medals . . .

08:08 AM

Women's keirin semi-finals

Excellent result for Ukraine, with both of their riders going through . . .

08:01 AM

Nicholas Paul 1 Denis Dmitriev 0

The world record holder in the 200m flying lap makes dust out of Denis Dmitriev to take a one-race advantage into the second leg of this quarter-final match.

07:58 AM

Jack Carlin 1 Maximilian Levy 0

The 24-year-old Scot blows away Maximilian Levy, a rider 10 years his senior, with an explosive attack. Levy briefly left the door open allowing Jack Carlin to dart below him down the tightest of channels. What a great performance that was from Carlin.

07:53 AM

Harrie Lavreysen 1 Jason Kenny 0

Harrie Lavreysen, the 24-year-old Dutchman, has take the lead in his quarter-final match with Olympic champion Jason Kenny. The 33-year-old Briton must win his next race or he is out.

07:51 AM

Jeffrey Hoogland 1 Sébastien Vigier 0

Too easy for the Dutchman, not even sure Hoogland tried.

07:50 AM

Back to the men's sprint quarter-finals . . .

. . . which revert to a best-of-three race between each pair, while the semi-final races and the all-important medal races are tomorrow.

07:48 AM

Dutchman Van Schip wins tempo race

Some clever riding from Jan-Willem van Schip at the end sees the Dutchman win the tempo race to take the overall lead in the men's omnium with 40 points. Benjamin Thomas was second, while Matt Walls was third.

07:43 AM

Walls gains a lap on the field

Matt Walls, Benjamin Thomas, Elia Viviani and Niklas Larsen have gained a lap on the field, but a handful of others have also advanced.

07:39 AM

Team GB rider Walls looking strong in omnium

Matt Walls (Great Britain) is doing well in the tempo race having already earned three points, as has Benjamin Thomas (France) at the midway point in the race.

07:31 AM

Men's omnium: The tempo race . . .

Not to be confuse with the points race, the tempo race is an even where riders earn points during the 10km event for being the first over the line at the end of every fifth lap, while 20 points are gained if a rider manages to lap the filed. Conversely, any rider who is lapped loses 20 points. Although the tempo race sounds very much like the points race it is not, only a fool would confuse the two.

07:28 AM

Kenny sets up quarter-final match with world champion

Jason Kenny keeps his sprint campaign alive after beating Azizulhasni Awang and Yuta Wakimoto, the Team GB rider being the only one to progress to the quarter-finals where he will face world champion Harrie Lavreysen. Sébastien Vigier won the other repechage race to set up a meeting with Jeffrey Hoogland.

07:26 AM

Kobayashi is out

Kelsey Mitchell (Canada) wins third and final quarter-final heat, but it is heartbreak for Yuka Kobayashi (Japan) who is out of the keirin.

07:22 AM

Dutch bounce back to win second quarter-final heat

Shanne Braspennincx left it late before overhauling a strong looking Ellesse Andrews (New Zealand), but it is a bit of a surprise to see Mathilde Gros (France) and Lea Friedrich (Germany) eliminated.

07:14 AM

Heartbreak for Marchant . . .

. . . whose dream of keirin gold is over after she goes down in a high-speed crash. Marchant went down after Dutchwoman Laurine van Riessen appeared to veer into her line leaving the Briton with nowhere to go.

Despite the disappointment for Marchant, she wasted little time in getting back up and after licking any wounds she has picked up will, hopefully, be back in action in the women's sprint tomorrow.

07:07 AM

Time for the women's keirin quarter-finals . . .

The keirin is an eight-lap track race that today will feature six riders in each quarter-final heat and any subsequent round, however there will be seven bikes out on the cedar wood boards of the Izu Velodrome. The seventh, though, is not pedal-powered but instead an electric bike, otherwise known as a derny bike (illustrated below).

Derny bike leads the way  - SWPIX.COM
Derny bike leads the way - SWPIX.COM

Favoured by strong sprinters, competitors require cunning and bravery once the fast-paced race reaches its climatic conclusion.

The derny starts the race with riders sitting in its slipstream as it gradually winds up the pace. Starting at 30kph, the vehicle gradually speeds up to 50kph before, after reaching the pursuit line on the home straight and with three laps remaining, it peels off the track.

No rider must pass the derny until it has left the track at which point they are free to duel it out with the first four riders from each heat progressing to the semi-finals, while it will be sayonara for those who roll over the line off the pace and in fifth and sixth spot.

Katy Marchant - AP
Katy Marchant - AP

Katy Marchant (above), Great Britain's sole representative in the competition, endured a worrying few minutes of Wednesday when she was relegated having won her first heat after straying off course. The Rio bronze medallist, however, easily won her repechage to progress to today's quarter-finals and sounded positive on Wednesday. "I just had a mishap coming in to turn three but that's another opportunity to practice and I'd rather learn that lesson in the first round than in the semis or finals tomorrow," she said.

07:06 AM

Levy powers into quarters

In the sixth and final heat, the veteran German sprinter Maximilian Levy uses all of his experience to beat Sam Webster of New Zealand and go through to the quarter-finals.

07:04 AM

Kenny loses out to Dmitriev

Jason Kenny (Great Britain) will get another shot in the repechages after he was held off by Denis Dmitriev (Russian Olympic Committee). Must say, this is not the Kenny most observers have become used to watching over the last decade. Without question, he would have won that race a few years ago.

07:01 AM

Paul beats Wakimoto to reach quarter-finals

Nicholas Paul, the rider from Trinidad and Tobago, beat local rider Yuta Wakimoto to upset the locals. There was a slight touching of elbows going into the final bend, but nothing that should give Paul too mush to worry about. Into the quarter-finals goes Paul, while the Japanese will get another chance in the repechages.

06:57 AM

Men's sprint: Team GB rider Carlin reaches quarter-finals

After a slow start with Sébastien Vigier leading the way while peering over his right shoulder starring into the eyes of Jack Carlin, the 24-year-old Scot overhauled the Frenchman with apparent ease. As Jason Kenny said yesterday, he is looking very good and, possibly, Team GB's best chance of a medal in this enent.

06:53 AM

Lavreysen strolls through to next round

In the second match-up between Dutch and Malaysian riders, world champion Harrie Lavreysen got the better of Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom to join Jeffrey Hoogland in the quarter-finals.

06:51 AM

Hoogland into the quarter-finals

Jeffrey Hoogland (Netherlands) progresses to the quarter-finals after beating Azizulhasni Awang, the Malaysian is through to the repechages.

06:48 AM

Now let's move over to the men's sprint

The winner of each heat will qualify for the quarter-finals, while the losers go through to the repechages where they will get get a second bite of the cherry. Once the quarter-final line-ups are decided the format reverts to a best-of-three race between each pair, while the semi-final races and the all-important medal races are tomorrow.

Dutchmen Jeffrey Hoogland and Harrie Lavreysen, who set the fastest two time in qualifying on Wednesday – both completed their flying 200 metre laps in 9.215sec – are looking to be in imperious form, while Jack Carlin (below) may be Britain's strongest sprinter.

Jack Carlin  - REUTERS
Jack Carlin - REUTERS

Speaking after the opening day of competition in the men's sprint, Jason Kenny, the defending Olympic champion, backed Carlin, saying he stood the best chance of the two to win a medal on Friday.

"Jack is really strong and is in a really good position," Kenny said of the 24-year-old Scot. "He's definitely our best chance. The Dutch boys are fast, a little bit quicker but Jack's got the edge in racing. He's a good racer and if he keeps it together he's in a really good position."

06:45 AM

Scratch race | Team GB rider Walls takes early lead

Having gained a lap on the field as part of that five-man breakaway, Matt Walls (Great Britain) wins the opening event after rolling over the line in third place. A very good start for the 23-year-old who plies his trade for Bora-Hansgrohe during the road season. Walls was third in this event at the 2020 world championships and so, one suspects, Elia Viviani will be very concerned about that.

06:42 AM

Scratch race | 10 laps to go

Benjamin Thomas (France), Jan-Willem van Schip (Netherlands), Matt Walls (Great Britain) and Artyom Zakharov (Kazakhstan) bridge over to Niklas Larsen with the quintet gaining half a lap on the field.

06:40 AM

Scratch race | 15 laps to go

Niklas Larsen (Denmark) puts in a dig off the front, but he has his work cut out – he has only gained around a quarter of a lap thus far.

06:37 AM

Scratch race | 25 laps to go

David Maree and Szymon Sajnok are reeled back in. Elia Viviani (Italy) briefly sits on the front, the reigning omnium champion from five years ago has a look around the field to monitor what's what.

06:35 AM

And they're off . . .

Straight from the gun

Kenny De Ketele, the Belgian six-day specialist, moves to the front of the field, but there are plenty of rotations in the group. Five laps into the race David Maree (South Africa) clips off the front taking with him Szymon Sajnok (Poland).

06:30 AM

Men's omnium: The scratch race . . .

All 20 riders are lined up on the track, half of the field along the inner sprinter's rail while the others are next to the outer railing near the seated stands inside this 3,600 capacity velodrome that has a reduced number of spectators (900) inside it during the Games.

Of all of the events in the omnium, the 10km scratch race is possibly the most straightforward with it pretty much being the first rider over the line that wins. No extra points are earned for lapping the field and there are no mid-race sprints where bonuses can be earned. However, riders can gain laps on the field to ensure they cannot be beaten by any of their rivals in the bunch, while anybody who is lapped twice may be withdrawn leading to a points deduction.

05:40 AM

Morning

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from the fourth day of the Olympics track cycling at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka, Japan.

Following yesterday's quite extraordinary men's team pursuit final in which Italy beat world champions Denmark to win their first gold medal in the discipline in the event since 1960, all eyes will be an another Italian this morning. Five years after winning Olympic gold in the men's omnium, Elia Viviani gets his title defence under way at 7.30am (BST) in the new-look four-format of the multi-discipline event. No longer contested over two days, the men's omnium now comprises the scratch, tempo, elimination and points races.

Elia Viviani - AP
Elia Viviani - AP

Viviani cannot expect a cakewalk today, however, and will face 19 opponents who will have woken up today in Japan dreaming of gold. In order for Viviani to take home the title he must first beat Kenny De Ketele (Belgium), Niklas Larsen (Denmark), Roger Kluge (Germany), Mark Downey (Ireland), Artyom Zakharov (Kazakhstan), Jan-Willem van Schip (Netherlands), Aaron Gate (New Zealand), Théry Schir (Switzerland), Gavin Hoover (United States), Sam Welsford (Australia), Andreas Müller (Austria), Yauheni Karaliok (Belarus), Albert Torres (Spain), Benjamin Thomas (France), Matt Walls (Great Britain), Christos Volikakis (Greece), Eiya Hashimoto (Japan), Szymon Sajnok (Poland) and David Maree (South Africa). It may not have as many big names as were in Rio – and we are thinking about Mark Cavendish and Fernando Gaviria here – but there will be an awful lot of talent and experience on show today.

Aside from the omnium, the men's sprint competition concludes with Team GB riders Jack Carlin and Jason Kenny both in action, as is reigning world champion Harrie Lavreysen and fellow Dutchman Jeffrey Hoogland. The women's keirin quarter-finals, semi-finals and medal races also take place today with British hopes resting on shoulders of Katy Marchant, who took home a bronze medal from Rio in the event. Strap yourselves in folks, it's going to be hectic.

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