Matt Walls strikes omnium gold for Team GB’s 50th medal of Tokyo 2020

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Credit: Team GB

Matt Walls won Team GB’s 16th gold and 50th medal of any colour at Tokyo 2020 with a dominant performance in the men’s omnium.

The 23-year-old scored 153 points across four different disciplines in one intense day, beating New Zealand’s Campbell Walsh by a commanding 24 points for Team GB’s first gold in the Izu Velodrome.

Walls led from the start with victory in the scratch race and he stayed consistent from there, finishing third in the tempo race and second in the elimination race.

In the final points race, he was put under pressure from a charging Elia Viviani but Walls’ proactive approach paid off, keeping a close eye on the Italian and eventually winning comfortably.

Walls, 23, from Oldham, said:

“I came into the points race with a bit of a lead and that was nice to have a bit of breathing room. I got a gap and committed to it, it worked out I got the lap (and 20 points) and the legs were sore after that.

“Coming in here, everything was a bit of an unknown. The last track race I did was the European Championships last year, which is a long way away.

“I came in knowing I was in good shape. I didn’t know how it would translate to the track or my tactics from the track, it’s been a long time since I have raced.

“I came into the scratch race feeling good and won it. I thought then, ‘I have a chance now as long as I play it smart.’ I knew I had the legs and it worked out.”

Walls’ gold medal marks the first time Team GB have won the men’s omnium at the Olympic Games, with Ed Clancy winning bronze at London 2012 and Mark Cavendish silver at Rio 2016.

Plenty of success has also been enjoyed in the women’s omnium, with Laura Kenny winning both Olympic titles since the event was introduced to the Games nine years ago.

Walls added:

“Before I got on the track, I was a mountain biker with my dad, just having fun. When I was at primary school, I was doing a lot of different sports, did a bit of triathlon and enjoyed the cycling bit.

“Someone said about going down to the velodrome, which was close for me because of where I live. I went there, tried it and loved it.

“I did more and more as I grew up, got into racing and tried all sorts. I did cross, did mountain biking, track and road.

“I got onto the British Cycling programme when I was 15, and went on to get a pro road contract which put me in good shape for here.”

Source: Team GB

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