Tokyo Olympics: Cyclists Matt Walls and Ethan Hayter win silver in men’s madison

GB’s Matt Walls and Ethan Hayter win silver in men’s madison after strong last lap
Dates: 23 July-8 August Time in Tokyo: BST +8
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British cyclist Matt Walls’ superb Olympic debut continued as he won a second Tokyo medal with silver in the men’s madison alongside Ethan Hayter.

Walls, who won gold in the men’s omnium, again finished on the podium in Saturday’s 50km race where points are awarded for 20 intermediate sprints.

The British pair held the gold medal spot after 10 sprints, having made a strong and consistent start.

They faded in an open race before a breathless final sprint secured silver.

It was still not enough to overhaul reigning world champions Denmark, who won gold.

Walls, 23, and 22-year-old Hayter won Team GB’s 61st medal of Tokyo 2020 – and a Games-high sixth on the cycling track – to leave them two short of the London 2012 total (63) and six short of Rio 2016 (67).

Jack Carlin and Jason Kenny still have the chance to increase the tally after reaching Sunday’s keirin quarter-finals.

In the women’s sprint, Katy Marchant was eliminated after losing the opening two races of her best-of-three quarter-final against Hong Kong’s Lee Wai-sze.

Britain have won 11 cycling medals in Tokyo, compared to 12 in London and Rio
Across the four cycling disciplines – BMX, mountain, road and track – Britain have so far won 11 medals in Tokyo

‘Boxing, 100m and a relay put in a blender’ – how GB earned success in the madison

Matt Walls and Ethan Hayter in the men's madison
Walls and Hayter were picked as Great Britain’s pairing for the men’s madison, with Ollie Wood – who won European bronze with Hayter in 2018 – missing out

The madison returned to the Olympic cycle for Tokyo, having been held at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 for the men, but appearing this year for the first time as a women’s event.

British pair Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald dominated their final on Friday to win a stunning gold, leaving Walls and Hayter hoping to replicate the feat.

The madison – described by 1992 Olympic pursuit champion Chris Boardman as “a boxing match, a 100m sprint and a relay race put in a blender” – can be a thrilling, chaotic and, perhaps, perplexing race for the casual viewer to follow.

Raced over 50km for the men, it is a tag-team event over 200 laps with a sprint for points after every 10 laps.

Walls and Hayter claimed points in five of the opening six sprints to sit in the gold medal position, but started losing momentum as they slipped behind Denmark and France shortly after the halfway point.

Trailing the French pair Benjamin Thomas and Donavan Grondin by nine points with 30 laps left, it looked as though the Britons would have to settle for bronze.

However, they managed to conserve some energy for a final flourish which saw them win 10 points in the last sprint.

“I was cooked halfway in but we had a bit of gas at the end to finish it off. It was everything I had,” said Walls, who had a broad grin.

Hayter added: “We set out on the front to try and get ahead start. I think my legs started to go first because the first 100 laps were so hard.

“I started to suffer, then Matt started to suffer. But we recovered and finished with a flourish.”

‘A hugely impressively physical feat – analysis

Sir Chris Hoy, Britain’s six-time Olympic track cycling champion:

Walls and Hayter threw everything at that and they should be very proud of the silver medal.

GB were leading early on, but kept chipping away for points.

A lot of these guys’ day job is the road team, and they have that strength to do a relatively short race but at 50km per hour. It’s a hugely impressive, physical feat.

Tokyo Olympics: Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald win historic gold in the women’s madison

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