British Kenny wins sprint; USA's Hammer tied for 1st in omnium

Jason Kenny and Gregory Bauge made it through to the final of the men's sprint event Monday at the Velodrome, but the highly anticipated final was a one-sided affair.

Great Britain's Kenny won the best-of-three matchup in two races, defeating the reigning world champion to claim his first individual Olympic gold medal.

Kenny had won silver in the event at the 2008 Beijing Games, behind countryman Chris Hoy. The two also teamed up to help Great Britain capture gold in the team sprint last week over Bauge's French team.

But while Hoy was the defending Olympic champion and a five-time gold medalist, Kenny was chosen to ride the individual sprint event.

He affirmed that it was the right choice with a dominating performance. When he started from the back, Kenny didn't let Bauge get away and came around for the victory. When he led out the sprint, Kenny held off the Frenchman's dash for the line.

"At the worlds and the year before, he's been the slightly faster rider," Kenny said. "Three days ago, I qualified a little bit quicker, and again the race has come down to that."

Bauge ended up with silver, while Australia's Shane Perkins took bronze over Trinidad and Tobago's Njisane Nicholas Phillip.

If there was any surprise Monday, it might have been how handily Kenny beat Bauge, who bested the British rider at this year's world championships and has won three of the last four titles.

The only year in that span when Bauge didn't win the title was 2011, and that was because his title was invalidated. The Frenchman did not follow procedures about availability for drug testing, and also missed a test.

"This is a failure for me personally," Bauge said. "It is four years that I've dominated in my discipline. I wanted gold, it's a disappointment. I do not train twice a day for this disappointment."

Bauge said he didn't have any regrets about how he raced, adding that the supportive crowd gave Kenny an advantage.

"This ambience makes the difference when you are a rider," he said. "The public had a huge influence. Kenny is at home, this is a small detail that can give you the wings."

Regardless of how he got the wings, Kenny has staked his claim as the best men's track sprinter in the world, and the victory continued an incredible run of success for the host country's cycling program.

Elizabeth Armitstead won silver in the women's road race, and Bradley Wiggins earned gold in the men's time trial. The British have dominated track disciplines, taking 5-of-7 gold medals so far.

Great Britain will have a chance for three more on Tuesday, the final day of track cycling at these games.

Victoria Pendleton will try for gold in the women's sprint, and will go into the semifinals as the favorite.

On Monday, she cruised through the quarterfinals in dominating fashion against Belarus' Olga Panarina. Pendleton is in form, having won gold in the keirin Friday. She has also taken six of the last eight world titles in the women's sprint, and is the defending Olympic champion.

Pendleton will face German Kristina Vogel in the semis, but her primary competition figures to be Australian Anna Meares.

Meares is the 2011 world champion, and faces China's Guo Shuang in the semis. But a Pendleton-Meares final is far from certain, as Meares had a tougher time in the quarterfinals Monday. She beat Ukrainian Lyubov Shulika in two races, but they were closer, and both of Meares' final laps were slower than Pendleton's.

The British will also have a chance to take gold in the women's omnium, a two- day, six-event competition that's new to the Olympics.

Reigning world champion Laura Trott got off to a good start Monday, when three races were held. She won two of them and is tied with the United States' Sarah Hammer for first, with 12 points.

Trott stumbled a bit in the points race, taking 10th, while Hammer was in the top five for all three. The American was runner-up to Trott in the elimination race.

"To be leading coming into the second day is a great position to be in, but anything can happen," Hammer said. "That's the nature of the omnium, one race at a time."

Hammer may have a leg up on the second day, which includes the individual pursuit and another time trial. She is a four-time world champion and world record-holder in the individual pursuit.

Australia's Annette Edmondson is third, with 17 points.

Also Tuesday, Hoy will contest the keirin, an event he won in 2008.