Rio 2016: Team sprint gold sets the standard for Great Britain on the track

It was a perfect start for Team GB as they won gold in the men's team sprint on a dominant opening night on the track and could mark the start of another golden Olympics on the track.

Rio 2016: Team sprint gold sets the standard for Great Britain on the track
Philip Hindes (L), Jason Kenny (C) and Callum Skinner receive their team sprint gold medals. (Image: Getty Images)

With an unprecedented medal haul at the last two Olympic Games, the Great Britain cycling team have set their personal bar so high it is almost unthinkable that they could sustain the same level of success in Rio.

However, it was a perfect start for Team GB as they won gold in the men's team sprint on a dominant opening night on the track and the victory could mark the start of another golden Olympics on the track, especially for Jason Kenny.

Team sprint gold sets the standard for Team GB

The trio of Kenny, Philip Hindes and Callum Skinner clocked a new Olympic record to beat New Zealand in a hotly-contested final to claim the first track cycling gold medal of Rio 2016 and win a third consecutive Olympic team sprint title. It may have only been the first event of the six days of track cycling competition, but the success in the team sprint suggests that once again the team has timed its four year cycling to perfection.

In both Beijing and London, Britain won gold medals in the men's team sprint and sent the team on its way to record gold medals hauls. Both times it was against the run of form the team showed at the preceding World Championships. Britain have not a world title in the event since 2005, but they have now won a gold medal at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

This year's World Championships was one of Great Britain's worst performances in recent years, qualifying in sixth place and missing the chance to ride for a medal. Their performance in London in March meant that they did not come into Rio as the favourites for a gold medal, but, once again, Britain have delivered as they have done at the previous two Olympic Games.

The success in the men's sprint could be a sign of things to come for Team GB and evidence that British Cycling have once again timed its four year cycling to perfection. The performances of the men's and women's team pursuit in qualification did not suggest otherwise either. Both teams qualified fastest ahead of their finals later this week, with the women claiming a world record in the process.

Jason Kenny celebrates after winning gold medals in the team and individual sprint at London 2012. | Photo: Getty Images
Jason Kenny celebrates after winning gold medals in the team and individual sprint at London 2012. | Photo: Getty Images

Could this be another golden Olympics for Jason Kenny?

Victory in the men's team sprint was Jason Kenny's fourth gold medal, meaning he is just two behind the British record held by fellow cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, and, if his performance in the men's team sprint is anything to go by, Kenny has a great chance of winning another one, if not, two gold medals in Rio in the individual sprint and the keirin.

If there is one rider in the British squad that demonstrates the way in which the team times its form over four years it's Kenny. The 2012 Olympic sprint champion always turns it on in Olympic years and once again he arrives in Rio having found form at the perfect time, winning a gold medal in the men's sprint at this year's World Championships in London.

Chris Hoy has tipped his former teammate to win three gold medals in Rio and, from the form he showed in the team sprint and at the World Championships, he is certainly the man to beat. However, he faces fierce competition, with Australia's Matthew Glaetzer, Germany's Joachim Eilers, Russia's Denis Dmitriev, New Zealand's Ed Dawkins and the French pair of Gregory Bauge and Francois Pervis are all likely to be strong in both events.