Should Jason Kenny be denied a shot at the Olympic sprint? That was the question asked to former Olympic champion Chris Boardman, who argued that if Kenny focussed on only the team sprint Great Britain would stand a better chance of winning gold in the event at Olympic Games.
Kenny is currently vying with Sir Chris Hoy for the only Olympic spot in the individual sprint but Boardman believes that with Great Britain struggling to fill their man one slot in the team sprint the team would be better served if Kenny slotted into the lead position, with Matt Crampton and Hoy comprising the final two slots.
In Friday’s qualifying rounds at the UCI Track World Cup in London, Great Britain came home in fourth, behind Germany, France and Australia. Ross Edgar led the team off with Kenny and Hoy making up the rest of the team.
“We don’t have a man one and in four years we’ve not been able to find a replacement for Jamie Staff," said Boardman. "That’s no slight on Ross Edgar, it’s just a fact of speed, and other people are faster. Ross is as good here as he’s ever been but that’s just his level as man one. So the only choice they have is to go with Jason Kenny as man one and then Matt Crampton as man three.
“The problem is the sprint event because while there’s two of them vying for the one Olympic spot then Jason Kenny will not take the approach that Jamie Staff had, which was 'my job is one lap of the track and nothing else'. Kenny has a foot in both camps and that’s not ideal.
“It’s a real tough decision for the management," continued Boardman. "If it was taken away from him and he did focus on that one job they could benefit from that, but that’s not the call I’d want to make. Jason has done 17.2 and a lot of it is about lap one because if you’re down from there it’s all about damage control.”
Boardman welcomed the level of competitiveness at the track World Cup, and predicted that the London Games would be a close run affair with a number of nations improving since the Beijing Games in 2008.
"Things are going to be close. The Australian’s were the favourites for the men’s team pursuit so to be so close to them was a good result. The Australian’s challenge is Bobridge who is so clearly stronger. That’s going to be interesting to watch if they’re under pressure but the British team are okay.
"Things are well spread around. The Germans have pushed on in the team sprint, the Australians have got it together in the pursuit in the last two years and I think everyone has caught up. The French are off the boil but the quality is there in the background."