Jimmy Watkins (Bakersfield, Calif./Project London 2012) gave the United States its best Olympic finish in the men’s sprint in 12 years, finishing sixth at the Olympic Velodrome on Sunday. Bobby Lea (Topton, Pa./Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA) recorded a string of personal bests to place 12th in the men’s omnium.
After qualifying 12th and advancing straight through to the quarterfinal round yesterday, Watkins squared off against third-seeded Shane Perkins of Australia in his best-of-three quarterfinal round. The more experienced Perkins overpowered Watkins in the first two of three rides leaving the Bakersfield firefighter to contest the 5/8th final which, in one ride, determines fifth through eighth place.
“I did my best,” explained Watkins. “I didn’t do anything wrong. He’s just stronger than I was. I did everything I could. He just outclassed me. I don’t feel badly about it.”
Watkins faced Russia’s Denis Dmitriev, Robert Forstemann (GER) and Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia in the race for fifth through eight places. Watkins was able to out kick all but Dmitriev to earn sixth place in the men’s sprint in his first appearance at the Olympic Games.
“I was super-motivated to do something in my last chance and to come out second in that and sixth overall, I’m happy with that,” said Watkins.
Watkins’ sixth is the best American Olympic result in the men’s sprint since Marty Nothstein’s gold in the 2000 Games in Sydney.
“The fact that he is here and he’s made it this far, being a full-time fireman, is pretty amazing if you compare him to the other athletes here,” said USA Cycling Track Sprint Program Director Jamie Staff. “He is very gifted and very strong and he should walk away here happy.”
Lea contested the final three events of the men’s omnium on Sunday. Lea finished 13th in the kilometer time trial, 10th in the scratch race and 11th in the individual pursuit to land the veteran American in 12th overall.
“With the exception of being one-tenth of a second off a personal record in the flying lap, everything else I’ve done here has been my best to date,” explained Lea. “Wherever I end up, I can leave here knowing that I’ve ridden the best that I can.”
During the morning session, Lea finished 11th in the individual pursuit after completing the four-kilometer ride in 4:30.127, moving him into ninth place in the standings.
In the evening session Lea was seventh to cross the line in the 15-kilometer omnium scratch race. This result moved him into 10th place overall with 48 points, 23 points behind the leaders who were deadlocked in a three-way tie with only the final event of this decathlon of track cycling remaining.
In the final omnium event Lea cranked out a 1:04.853 for the 13th best time in the one-kilometer time trial, moving him into 12th overall in the final standings with 61 total points.
Although Great Britain’s Ed Clancy posted under a 1:01 in the one-kilometer time trial, Denmark’s Lasse Norman Hansen earned the gold medal with a total of only 27 points throughout the six-race event where the lowest point total wins.
Men’s Sprint Quarterfinals
Ride 1: Shane Perkins (AUS) over Jimmy Watkins (Bakersfield, Calif./Project London 2012)
Ride 2: Shane Perkins (AUS) over Jimmy Watkins (Bakersfield, Calif./Project London 2012)
Men’s Sprint 5/8th final
5. Denis Dmitriev (RUS)
6. Jimmy Watkins (Bakersfield, Calif./Project London 2012)
7. Robert Forstemann (GER)
8. Azizulhasni Awang (MAL)
Men’s Omnium Final Standings
1. Lasse Norman Hansen (DEN) 27
2. Bryan Coquard (FRA) 29
3. Edward Clancy (GBR) 30
12. Bobby Lea (Topton, Pa./ Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA) 61
Men’s Omnium one-kilometer time trial
1. Edward Clancy (GBR) 1:00.981
2. Lasse Norman Hansen (DEN) 1:02.314
3. Glenn O’Shea (AUS) 1:02.513
13. Bobby Lea (Topton, Pa./ Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA) 1:04.853
Men’s Omnium 15-kilometer scratch race
1. Zachary Bell (CAN)
2. Eloy Teruel Rovira (ESP) -
3. Bryan Coquard (FRA)
10. Bobby Lea (Topton, Pa./ Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA)
Men’s Omnium four-kilometer individual pursuit
1. Lasse Norman Hansen (DEN) 4:20.647
2. Edward Clancy (GBR) 4:20.853
3. Glenn O’Shea (AUS) 4:24.811
11. Bobby Lea (Topton, Pa./ Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA) 4:30.127