Jason Kenny believes Great Britain’s sprint cycling squad can regain their former dominance in time for the Tokyo Olympics after clinching a bronze medal at the European Games in Minsk.
Rebounding from a dismal World Championships in Poland earlier this year, Britain beat the Czech Republic in a bronze medal race-off while the dominant Netherlands beat France to secure to another major gold.
The Dutch winning time of 42.385, eclipsing Britain’s final total of 43.020, emphasised the current difference in class which Kenny and team-mates Ryan Owens, Jack Carlin and Joe Truman will have to breach.
Kenny told PA: “I think we’ve got all ingredients of a strong team and it’s just a case of putting it all together in the right race on the right day.
“We’ve got the potential to take it right to the Dutch and give them a run for their money.
“At the end of the day, Poland is history now, whether we won there or completely bombed. We’re working towards the Olympics and it’s another stepping-stone along the way.”
After failing to make the podium in Poland, the British team had headed to Belarus with few expectations of overhauling the almost full-strength Dutch line-up.
Kenny figured in the opening qualification race in which their time of 43.517 ranked them second behind the favourites, but the six-times Olympic champion was rested for the first round in which they were overhauled by France.
Carlin said: “We came into this to see where we were standing after the Worlds. We had a heavy training block and we have come out of the other side with a strong showing.”
Becky Downie made an impressive comeback following ankle surgery as she reached the final of the women’s uneven bars in the gymnastics event at the Minsk Arena.
The 27-year-old underwent the operation in the wake of an emotional performance at the World Championships in Doha in October, when she fell during an ambitious routine in the final.
Downie said: “For me I’ve got to remember that this is the starting point, not the end. I know I need to make improvements but I’ve always got to appreciate where I’ve come from.
“I was disappointed with the way things went in Doha but I don’t regret taking that gamble on the big routine. I feel like I’m in a much better place after my surgery and I know where I need to go.”
Great Britain team-mate Georgia-Mae Fenton, who like Downie is best known for her bars routine, qualified for her first major all-around final which could prove significant in the build-up to Tokyo 2020.
The 18-year-old Fenton is one of a number of relatively inexperienced athletes aiming to make the four-strong Olympic squad, with strength across all four apparatus being the likely deciding factor in selection.
Fenton said: “This competition is my chance to show what I can do and I’m delighted to reach the final because I’ve been working very hard on all my apparatus.
“I have suffered with nerves in the past but in this competition I haven’t felt nervous at all. I’m learning that I’ve just got to stay focused on myself and if I do that it is going to be fine.”