Rio de Janeiro: Germany’s Kristina Vogel edged Becky James of Britain by four-thousandths of a second to win the Olympic women’s track cycling sprint gold on Tuesday, despite losing her saddle in the process.
James, who also won silver in the keirin, was the fastest qualifier but two-time former world champion Vogel used all her experience to prevail in the best-of-three final.
Vogel won the first leg and in the second, which needed a photo finish to determine the winner, she pushed her bike a fraction in front of the Briton’s despite her saddle flying off as she crossed the line.
“I won the second ride without a saddle, I was just struggling not to crash - it was crazy,” said Vogel.
James, who suffered a cancer scare two yeas ago that required an operation, was happy with two silver medals from her tournament.
“I really wanted to win this gold but Vogel is an incredible rider. I’m still very happy,” said James, the girlfriend of Welsh rugby star George North, who watched her in the arena.
Britain finished with two medals as Katy Marchant beat keirin champion Elis Ligtlee of the Netherlands for bronze.
Their second leg was almost as close as the one in the final as Marchant, already up by one leg, crossed the line seven-thousandths of a second in front of Ligtlee.
“All the hard work, sweat and tears has paid off. I cannot believe it,” said Marchant. “Shows how hard myself and Becky have worked. So surreal.”
Vogel, who won team sprint gold in London four years ago, had finished only sixth in qualifying but beat the two fastest qualifiers - James and Marchant - in the semis and final.
But she said she wouldn’t have qualified so lowly but for a poor gear choice on the single, fixed-gear bikes.
“The qualifying wasnt that good for me because I had a too big gear,” said the 25-year-old.
“I wanted to take a risk but it didn’t work for me.
“I knew I could beat her (James), I beat her in the past.”