<
>

Chris Hoy defends men's keirin title

LONDON -- Chris Hoy set a British record with his sixth Olympic gold medal Tuesday, defending his keirin title to finish off a dominating track cycling program for the home nation.

Britain won seven of the 10 gold medals awarded at the London Velodrome to match its haul from the Beijing Games. It also won a silver and a bronze to finish with nine medals overall.

"I'm in shock. I'm trying to take it all in, but this is surreal," Hoy said. "It's what I always wanted -- to win gold in front of my home crowd. I can't express the feelings I'm having right now."

The 36-year-old Hoy said he'd like to keep competing through the 2014 Commonwealth Games in his native Scotland, but said he was "99.9 percent sure" that this was his final Olympics.

"This is the perfect end to my Olympic career," he said. "At Sydney, I was just over the moon with a silver medal. If I'd have stopped then, I would have been a happy boy, but to go on to Athens, Beijing and here, I can't put it into words."

Hoy was briefly overtaken by Maximilian Levy on the final lap of the eight-lap keirin, but pulled even with his German rival on the final corner and out-sprinted him to the finish line.

Levy settled for the silver medal, and Simon van Velthooven of New Zealand and Teun Mulder of the Netherlands were both awarded bronze when a photo finish could not decide third place.

Hoy's six gold medals broke a tie with rower Steve Redgrave and made Hoy the first rider to defend a keirin Olympic title. The Flying Scotsman also matched his teammate and Olympic time trial champion Bradley Wiggins with seven overall medals, also a record for Britain.

"It's just the most amazing feeling," Hoy said.

He wasted no time waking up the velodrome crowd Tuesday morning.

Put in the first race of the day, Hoy opened the keirin competition by going straight to the front in his first-round match with two laps still to go. Van Velthooven was able to stay with him, but the New Zealand rider didn't stand a chance of overtaking Hoy by the finish line.

Levy also won his race, followed closely by Mulder -- a signal that both were on form.

Hoy used the same tactic as in the first round to win his semifinal race. He went clear of the field at the start line and held them off for two full laps to set up his chance for gold.

The motorized derny, which sets the pace for the first 5½ laps, came around to start the final race as a capacity crowd rose to its feet. Levy slotted in right behind, Shane Perkins of Australia was second, and Hoy appeared content to ride around in third.

When the derny exited on the back stretch, the race was on.

Hoy moved up along the outside of Levy and barreled into the lead on the front stretch, just as he did every round to reach the final. Levy charged back to pass him on the front stretch entering the final lap, and the two were side-by-side heading into the final corner.

Hoy pounded down on his pedals, gritting his teeth as he tore over the final 40 meters to finish just ahead of Levy, with van Velthooven and Mulder right on their wheels.

Hoy did a victory lap before stopping on the front stretch, where he handed his bike over to his coaches and then pumped his fist while waving the British flag.

His gold medal was the second of the day for Britain after Laura Trott's victory in the multi-event women's omnium. It was also the third overall after Victoria Pendleton took silver behind rival Anna Meares of Australia in the women's sprint.

"I'm just so relieved right now," said Pendleton, who intends to retire after the games. "I'm just so overwhelmed with emotion. I would have loved to have won in my final race. At the same time, I am just so glad I am done and I can move on."