It was meant to be the “Jason Kenny Show”, but Great Britain’s sprint gold medallist was only 10 minutes into his winner’s press conference when he was upstaged by the man he conquered.
Frenchman and reigning world champion Gregory Bauge, who dismissed Australian bronze medallist Shane Perkins in the semi-finals, was clearly bemused by the strength of Kenny and the British team.
Asked what make Great Britain apparently unbeatable on the track, he answered: ”I don’t know … if I knew I would tell. You have to ask him. Being at home with the British public helps.”
Kenny, 24 and second to 27-year-old Bauge in this year’s world titles (he was first last year when the Frenchman did not race), gave his best explanation when he was asked.
”We have always kind of been close at the world championships,” he said. ”Everywhere we go were are always close. When it comes to the Olympics we make sure we get every little detail right. That is what we did at Beijing. We have done the same again here.
“It’s not as if we are winning by miles and miles and miles. But we have got just enough to keep our nose in front. It’s not one little thing, but everything, making sure that every box is ticked in the last six months leading up to this. Team morale goes a long way as well.” And so Kenny went on.
Bauge was not convinced — so he decided to ask Kenny a few questions himself.
Handed the floor, Bauge turned to his left and asked Kenny: ”You were world title silver medallist in 2008, now Olympic champion 2012 — that is four years to today. How did you prepare?”
Looking at Bauge, Kenny said: ”It is not like we do anything different. The Olympics is our main goal. I guess as an athlete we alway try hard. When get to Olympics we are still trying hard and that’s when all the team comes together, for that last little bit. The last two world championships when we have raced we have raced against someone who we feel is unbeatable.”
Bauge, with a wry grin, continued: ”I remember you at Proszkow (for the 2009 world titles) just after the Beijing [Olympics] and we competed in the quarter finals together …”
Kenny, with a grin to match, fired back: ”Yeah … that’s because you went out in the reps and came back and beat me in the quarter final.”
The media loved it. So much so, that when Bauge — wanting a more expansive explanation from Kenny for his impressive Olympic form — beckoned for another chance to ask the gold medallist a question, forcing the press conference moderator to ask reporters: ”Are you happy for Gregory to ask another question?”, journalists answered with a chorus of ”yeahs!”.
So Bauge got at it again to Kenny, asking him: ”If I understand you well, in four years you just relax and when [it] comes Rio you will be on top again?
Kenny was ready, answering his interrogator: ”No, not at all. The Olympics is the main one for us. I think that is the one you get the most support for. I still want to win world championships. The world championships mean a lot for me as a rider. So I am going forward and hopefully will be battling for a top spot [in the Great Britain team] in the Olympics.”
So why was Bauge being so persistent?
“Because he beat me …” he told the reporter who asked. ”I prepare my way for the Olympic Games and I am curious to know how he prepared for this Games, especially as it was not easy. He had to compete with Chris Hoy to get selection [for the sprint]. He had to beat him first, and then concentrate on the sprint and team sprint.”
It wasn’t Bauge’s last word on a night that saw Britain’s gold medal haul in track cycling reach five, while Australia are still without a gold medal heading into Tuesday’s last day of track racing.
Australia still has three chances left for gold medals on the track with Shane Perkins in the men’s keirin event, Anna Meares in the individual sprint and Annette Edmondson in the omnium.
Perkins celebrated his bronze medal. ”To come away with a bronze medal is fantastic,” the world keirin champion said after beating Trinadad and Tobago’s Njisane Nicholas Phillip for it.”
Of his semi-final loss to Bauge, Perkins, who had overcome a virus that struck before the team sprint said: ”Tactically my races were perfect, I just didn’t have that little bit of extra speed.”
First, his mind is today’s keirin, which features some new faces that didn’t enter the sprint. ”We will just go back and look at some of the videos of the past year and see what we are up against,” he said. ”Obviously having the races [on Monday night] and having a few wins under the belt is going to give me the confidence to go out there and do my best.”
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