SHAW cyclist Matt Walls made track history at Tokyo 2020 today by becoming Britain’s first ever men’s omnium Olympic champion.
The 23-year-old’s stunning win in the gruelling multi discipline event was the first at the Games for Team GB’s Manchester trained track squad.
Victory for the former St Joseph’s and Crompton House pupil also brought up Britain’s 50th medal of the Games.
Walls scored 153 points across four different disciplines beating New Zealand’s Campbell Walsh by a commanding 24 points.
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 Italian Elia Viviani but eventually won comfortably.
Walls 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’ succeeded in the omnium where Ed Clancy (bronze at London 2012) and Mark Cavendish (silver, Rio 2016) couldn’t achieve gold.
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.”