Jason Kenny forced into last chance repechage after losing heat in defence of cycling sprint title – but British team-mate Jack Carlin comfortably progresses to the quarter-finals
Jason Kenny’s defence of his sprint title suffered a blow after he was defeated in his 1/8 finals heat by Russian athlete Denis Dmitriev.
As well as defending the sprint titles he won in London and Rio, Kenny is now looking to become Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian of all time with a ninth medal in Tokyo.
But he was held off well by the Dmitriev, who he defeated in the semi-finals in Rio five years ago, in his heat, and he will now feature in a repechage for a second chance to reach the quarter-finals.
Jason Kenny (right) was defeated in the men’s sprint 1/8 finals by Russian Denis Dmitriev
Jason Kenny reacts after losing against the Russian athlete he defeated in Rio five years ago
Kenny will now face Yuta Wakimoto and Azizulhasni Awang in the repechage – both riders he has already defeated in earlier rounds of the sprint event.
However, team-mate Jack Carlin impressed again after comfortably seeing off Frenchman Sebastien Vigier to reach the last eight.
Carlin will take on veteran German rider Max Levy for a place in the semi-finals.
Kenny, now aged 33, admitted he was struggling with the workload of his Olympic programme, as on Wednesday he squeaked through three rounds just a day after winning silver in the team sprint with Carlin and Ryan Owens.
‘I’ve been struggling a bit and struggling with recovering,’ confessed Kenny. ‘It felt like every ride was a final and I rode it like it was as well.’
On Wednesday the Brits had secured qualification with times quicker than Kenny’s Olympic record set in Rio.
Kenny recorded the eighth best time at 9.510 seconds, narrowly beating the 9.551 he set five years ago when he took gold.
Carlin though was even quicker, progressing through qualification with an impressive 9.306 to go third quickest.
There was success though for Jack Carlin (top) who comfortably reached the quarter-finals
Carlin’s Olympic record lasted mere minutes as world champion Harrie Lavreysen went faster with a 9.215 before his Dutch compatriot Jeffrey Hoogland bizarrely recorded the exact same time.
Along with the top three qualifiers, among the challengers to Kenny’s title is Paul Nicholas of Trinidad and Tobago.
Nicholas set a new world record of 9.100 two years ago and was fourth quickest at the velodrome.
Hoogland, Lavreysen and Nicholas also progressed from their heats as winners to also reach the quarter-finals – where the six heat winners are joined by two riders from the two three-cyclist repechage which feature the losing riders from the 1/8 finals.