Canada's Lauriane Genest dashes to bronze in track cycling women's keirin
Canadian Kelsey Mitchell places 5th in final
Canadian track cyclist Lauriane Genest bolted to bronze in the women's keirin at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.
The Netherlands' Shanne Braspennincx claimed gold with a time of 10.622 seconds, while Ellesse Andrews of New Zealand won silver, finishing 0.061 seconds behind. Genest crossed the finish line 0.148 seconds back of the leader in third.
Canada's Kelsey Mitchell came in fifth place, more than half a second behind Braspennincx.
Genest said she entered the race not necessarily expecting to land on the podium.
"I'm pretty stoked. It's an amazing feeling," she said. "I didn't come here today to win. I knew I could do well, but I'm very happy with the outcome and I don't quite realize it yet.
"I didn't feel much. I didn't know what was going on. I'm starting to feel the high emotions and realize it, but in the moment I crossed the finish line I didn't really know what I had done. It's a life accomplishment, honestly. We work so hard every day. We train so hard and it's amazing to see the work pay off."
Genest, who just barely made it into the final, finishing 0.005 seconds ahead of Russian Olympic Committee's Daria Shmeleva for the last qualifying spot, saved her best for last and claimed bronze without much of a contest.
WATCH | Canada's Lauriane Genest claims bronze in track cycling women's keirin:
Ukraine's Olena Starikova, who finished fourth, was 0.248 seconds behind Genest.
The keirin, which originated in Japan as a popular gambling race, is a six-lap race of the 250-metre track.
Cyclists sprint for the win after a controlled start behind a motorized or non-motorized pacer.
Speed gradually increases over the first three laps to about 50 kilometres per hour, and then accelerates to a sprint for the final three.
Genest, a 23-year-old from Levis, Que., started the event with another close call, taking the fourth of four semifinal spots from her quarter-final heat.
The level of intensity in the final race was raised when Mitchell aggressively made her way to the front of the pack from third with two laps to go. The move backfired as she was passed by Andrews and Braspennincx.
WATCH | Cyclist Lauriane Genest receives women's keirin bronze medal:
On the final lap, Genest was able to sneakily find her way into the middle of the pack approaching the final bend in Tokyo's Izu Velodrome, where she kicked it up a notch to push into third and onto the podium.
Mitchell, of Sherwood Park, Alta., also played that aggressive style between the quarter-finals and semifinals.
In the quarter-finals, the 27-year-old overtook her opponents, coming around from the back of the pack late to win her heat. Mitchell started out from the near the back again in the semifinals, taking the same approach but making her move earlier — this time with three laps to go.
Both Genest and Mitchell will also race in the women's sprint event. Heats are on Friday, with the final on Sunday.
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With files from The Canadian Press