Smiling and exuberant, Pendleton said she was overjoyed at winning the Olympic gold medal.

“I can barely believe it real!” she told the BBC immediately after her race. “I was just like focus, focus.”

Thanking her noisy legion of fans – which included Bradley Wiggins – Team GB cycling star Pendleton said: “The crowd has been fantastic.”

A deafening roar greeted Pendleton earlier after she qualified for the keirin final.

It meant the Brit took part in an adrenaline surge of a showdown against world champion and arch-rival Australian Anna Meares.

Pendleton has now satisfactorily made up for her disqualification in Thursday’s team sprint when she and team mate Jessica Varnish were relegated for an illegal changeover.

Women’s keirin result

Gold: Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain)

Silver: Shuang Guo (China)

Bronze: Sze Wai Lee (Hong Kong)

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