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Team GB’s Matt Walls wins omnium cycling gold at Tokyo Olympics

Written by on 05/08/2021

Great Britain’s Matt Walls has won track cycling gold in the men’s omnium at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 23-year-old rode smartly throughout the four-discipline event to win Team GB’s first title in the velodrome of these Games – and 50th medal of the Tokyo Olympics overall and 16th gold.

He led the standings ahead of the Netherlands’ Jan-Willem van Schip and France’s Benjamin Thomas going into the fourth and final race of the event.

Matt Walls
Image: ‘Wonder Walls’ holds up his gold medal on the podium

Walls, the European champion and a bronze medallist at the 2020 world championships, won the opener on Thursday and closed down an initial four-man attack which included Denmark’s Niklas Larsen and produced a surging finish to take 40 points in the scratch race.

He gained 36 points from the tempo race to put himself level on points with two other riders at the top of the field on 76 points.

Another strong performance saw him finishing second in the elimination race to move top of the leaderboard ahead of the final 100-lap points race.

He dictated the race from the outset, breaking away to gain a lap on the rest of the field early on, to win with a comfortable final margin of 24 points from Campbell Stewart of New Zealand who took the silver.

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“I managed to get a good lead coming to the end. It’s been a hard day. I came into that points race with a bit of a lead which was nice, it gave me a bit of breathing room,” he told the BBC.

Matt Walls
Image: Walls led the field for most of the final points race
Matt Walls
Image: Walls celebrates Team GB’s first gold in the Izu Velodrome of these Games

“Thank you to all my family and friends, I wouldn’t be here without them. Especially my parents when I was younger growing up, they travelled around the country with me and there’s no chance I’d be here without them.”

The Oldham-born rider tested positive for COVID-19 in late March which disrupted his season with Bora-Hansgrohe road cycling team, but he returned to competitive action at the Tour de Suisse in June.

The format of the omnium has changed since 2016 when it included six separate events spaced over two days. It now comprises four races in one day.

Walls took the gold medal at the Izu Velodrome with 153 points, with Stewart finishing on 129 points and Italy’s Elia Viviani on 124 to collect the bronze.

Team GB's Liam Heath with his bronze medal in Tokyo
Image: Team GB’s Liam Heath won bronze medal in the men’s K1 200m canoe sprint
Galal Yafai
Image: Galal Yafai will fight for the gold medal in the final of the men’s flyweight on Saturday

It was Team GB’s second medal of the day after Liam Heath earlier won the bronze medal in the men’s K1 200m canoe sprint.

“A massive thanks to everybody that’s watching at home. Not quite the gold, but I’m happy with my performance so I hope you guys can be happy too,” he said.

It was the 36-year-old’s fourth Olympic medal after successes at London 2012 and Rio four years later.

And Team GB boxer Galal Yafai set up a gold medal fight. The Birmingham fighter guaranteed himself at least a silver medal after making it through to the final of the men’s flyweight category.

“To be in an Olympic final is something I never thought I could do, and now I’m in it. It just goes to show, if you put in hard work, you reap the rewards,” he said.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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