Matthew Walls won Britain’s first track cycling gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics as he stormed to victory in the men’s omnium on Thursday.
Walls was a clear winner at the Izu Velodrome, finishing 24 points ahead of New Zealand’s Campbell Stewart and a further five clear of Italy’s Elia Viviani.
The 23-year-old signalled his potential by winning omnium bronze at the world championships last year but this is his first appearance at an Olympics and he rose to the occasion.
After settling for silver medals in the men’s team sprint and women’s team pursuit earlier this week, Britain now have a gold to make it eight cycling medals in total in Japan.
The omnium is made up of four different races –- the scratch, tempo, elimination and points — with riders scoring points in each for an overall total.
Walls was among the leaders from the start, as a pack of five pulled away in the scratch race before the Briton powered through at the finish to take the maximum 40 points.
He finished third in the tempo, the top three of Walls, France’s Benjamin Thomas and Jan Willem van Schip of the Netherlands all level, but both Thomas and Van Schip slipped up in the elimination, giving Walls a four-point lead heading into the final race.
Walls never let go of his lead, gaining a lap on the field early on in the points race and holding off both Campbell and a surging Viviani to extend his advantage and win gold.