Update: 1.35AM Records tumbled, controversy rumbled and history was made as Germany became the first women’s team sprint Olympic champions at a heaving velodrome last night.
Australia’s Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch finished with a bronze medal, posting 32.727sec in their victory over Ukraine’s Lyubov Shulika and Olena Tsyos.
But the gold went to Germany’s Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte after the Chinese duo of Jinjie Gong and Shuang Guo, who were first across the line in 32.619secs, were relegated to silver because of a changeover error.
The scene had been set for fireworks and it did not disappoint as the British duo of Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish set a world record in qualifying and seemed on their way to gold on the Olympic debut of women’s team sprint.
But their hopes were sunk and their record smashed by China as the lid was popped on the venue affectionately known as the “Pringle” because its shape resembles that of the potato chip.
After raising the expectations of a home crowd with a record qualifying time of 32.526sec, Pendleton and Varnish were disqualified in their next ride.
Pendleton, who won individual sprint gold in Beijing and will retire after these Games, triggered the disqualification when she went ahead of Varnish outside the designated area as she set off on the second lap.
“It’s really hard when you are going that speed,” she said. “We’ve never really had an illegal change before but it’s just one of those things. We’re both partly to blame. We were just too eager.”
While Team GB chief Dave Brailsford argued the case for their inclusion in the final, the Chinese duo of Jinjie Gong and Shuang Guo set a new record of 32.422sec to deliver a double whammy to the Brits.
Britain’s removal from the final elevated Germany from a ride-off for bronze to a race for the top step on the podium.
The women’s team sprint was introduced to the Olympic as one of several changes made in the wake of the Beijing Games.
For the first time in Games history, the men and women have been given equal billing after the men’s madison and points races were dropped as well as the individual pursuit for both genders.
The mixed-discipline omnium has been introduced for the first time.Meares will contest the keirin today before the final chapter of her rivalry with Pendleton is played out on Tuesday.
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