Izu, Shizuoka Pref. – Japan’s Yumi Kajihara won silver in the women’s track cycling omnium Sunday and celebrated in front of a home crowd after a Games where Japanese athletes were forced to revel in victory in largely empty stadiums.
The omnium competition involves four very different races: scratch, tempo, elimination and points.
A huge crash that involved at least nine racers in the scratch race injured many of the favorites, including British cyclist and London and Rio gold medalist Laura Kenny, though she was able to continue racing.
Kajihara finished second in the scratch, fifth in the tempo and second in the elimination race. Going into the final points race, she was positioned second with 108 points after America’s Jennifer Valente who was on 115.
Despite crashing with just eight laps to go in the points race, she was able to finish the race and her final score of 110 was enough to carry her to the silver medal position, just edging out the Netherlands Kirsten Wild who finished in Bronze on 108 points. Valente took gold with 124 points.
"I am delighted with the medal. This is the result of all the hard work I have put in," said a tearful Kajihara. "I trained hard to this point with the intention of becoming the champion so in that sense I'm really disappointed.
"Every day with my mother I trained to the point of nearly vomiting, that's how hard it was.
"I was able to show that Japanese women in omnium can cut it against the world's best," she said.
Track cycling is taking place at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka Prefecture. As Shizuoka Prefecture is not under a state of emergency, the velodrome is one of the rare Olympic venues to allow fans to attend.
The stands were about half full with Japanese fans who celebrated widely when Kajihara took her medal.
In the men’s keirin race earlier in the day, British cyclist and Rio gold medalist Jason Kenny (also Laura Kenny’s husband) took his second gold medal in the discipline and his seventh Olympic gold medal overall.
Canada’s Kelsey Mitchell won gold in the women’s sprint finals.
Information from Kyodo added
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