Remembering Sydney: Cyclist Queally stuns hosts with first gold

It’s 16 years since the Sydney Olympics, when Team GB returned from Australia with 11 golds, 10 silvers and seven bronze medals, which back then was our most successful Games since 1920. It was the first Games that Team GB athletes had benefitted from National Lottery funding, following its introduction in 1997.

Jason Queally shocked himself and the host nation to claim Team GB’s first gold on the opening day of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Australia’s Shane Kelly was the overwhelming favourite in track cycling's 1,000m time trial but 30-year old Queally had other ideas.

The 13th of 16 starters in a four lap race against the clock, he set a new Olympic record of 1:01.609, smashing his personal best by nearly a second and a half.

An anxious wait followed and Kelly, who beat Queally into silver at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, was ahead of his time until fading on his final lap.

France's world record holder Arnaud Tournant was last to ride but Queally’s time proved too good, as he became the first British cyclist to win Olympic gold since Chris Boardman eight years earlier in Barcelona.

The win also came just four years after he nearly died in an accident at Meadowbank cycling track in Edinburgh when an 18-inch sliver of the wooden track entered his chest via his armpit.

“I don't know where the time came from,” he admitted.

“I just cannot believe it, I'm speechless. I came here thinking a potential medal, maybe a bronze, but it all depends on what happens on the day, something strange happened.”

Queally went on to win team sprint silver with Craig MacLean and 24-year old Chris Hoy - the first of his seven career Olympic medals and the only one that wasn’t gold.

He was part of the British team sprint squad at the Athens Olympics and was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame in 2009.

He retired from cycling after failing to qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing but briefly made a comeback as a tandem pilot rider for the British Paralympic team ahead of London 2012.

Sportsbeat 2016