Matt Walls won gold in the Olympic men’s omnium to deliver Great Britain’s first title in the velodrome of these Games.
The 23-year-old from Oldham rode smartly throughout the four-discipline event to win with a comfortable final margin of 24 points from Campbell Stewart of New Zealand.
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.
The omnium has changed format for these Games, with four events now squeezed into one testing afternoon of racing.
Walls, the European champion who tested positive for Covid-19 in March, started superbly after gaining a lap just before the second sprint, seeing him gain 25 points in total and putting pressure on the rest of the pack early on.
It saw the Team GB star open up a 29-point lead and take full control after just a few completed sprints.
Matt Walls is an Olympic champion after securing the gold medal in the men’s omnium
The 23-year-old delivered Great Britain’s first title in the velodrome of these Games
Walls (right) got off to a superb start and kept defending champion Elia Viviani (left) at bay
Benjamin Thomas, who started the session third, tried to narrow the deficit to Walls after nipping to the front but Walls kept his composure.
Ahead of the sixth sprint, Walls was in cruise control with a 38-point lead and the Team GB star would go on to extend it by another five after winning the sprint.
With the laps dwindling, Walls kept the pace but got his tactics spot on to make sure he kept the likes of Italy’s Elia Viviani and France’s Benjamin Thomas at arm’s length.
Walls dominated from start to finish and never looked threatened over the 100-lap race
Walls revealed he was delighted with his performance, having opened up a bit of a cushion going into the final race.
‘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,’ Walls told BBC Sport.
‘Thank you to all my family and friends, I wouldn’t be here without them, especially my parents.’
Walls (right) 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 control the race to secure gold
Britain had been made to settle for silver in the women’s team pursuit and men’s team sprint earlier in the week, while another event they had previously dominated – the men’s team pursuit – ended in a disappointing seventh place.
But Walls – held out of that pursuit in order to focus entirely on the omnium – ended Britain’s wait for gold on the fourth day of action in the velodrome.
The Oldham-born rider tested positive for Covid-19 in late March, disrupting his season on the road with Bora-Hansgrohe, returning to competitive action at the Tour de Suisse in June.
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