London Olympics: Tears flow as GB take velodrome gold
Sir Chris Hoy took his sixth gold medal and Laura Trott her second of the Games in the velodrome's final session on Tuesday evening. And there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
They didn't need "Kiss Cam" to conjure up emotion in the velodrome. The gimmick to entertain the crowds displays a camera shot of two people on the venue's big screens while the compere demands they give each other at least a peck or even a full-on snog.
Feelings poured out of everyone as Chris Hoy won gold in the Keirin and Laura Trott in the Omnium.
"This is what sport does to people," spectator Garry Leeming shouted over the din. Tears were streaming down his friend Deborah Wilkinson's face as they watched Hoy power down the home straight of the velodrome to glory.
There were tears too, from Laura Trott's sister Emma as she was interviewed after watching her sibling. "She's not just done us proud, she's done the whole country proud," she said, and then dissolved.
Up on the podium to receive his gold medal the big man cried too, while the flag was raised and the national anthem played.
Hoy bit his lip and took huge breaths to compose himself. They seemed bigger even than those needed on his bike to beat the German Maximilian Levy into second place on the last lap of their race.
On the day Team GB amassed a medal haul of 22 golds, their best performance since London 1908, it was a night for huggers.
Coaches hugged cyclists, supporters hugged each other, Hoy, Britain's brand new "most-successful Olympian" hugged Sir Steve Redgrave, Britain's "greatest" Olympian.
The £105m velodrome has a reputation as the loudest of the Park's venues. And the "ooooaaaarrrr" noise pressed up against the Pringle-shaped roof from the first moment - when Victoria Pendleton went onto the track to contest the semi-final of the women's sprint.
"Vicky, Vicky, Vicky," the loop of fans chanted at her as she lost out on gold in the final. And wept.
In the speed-boosting heat, set at 28 degrees, there was a Royal flush of Windsors to support the cyclists.
Prince Harry, his Aunt Princess Anne, her son Peter Phillips, Sarah Ferguson, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were trackside. Seb Coe led the list of Olympic organisers. Ed Miliband popped in.
After the controversy of empty seats at venues, there was standing room only around the central belt of seating.
The athletes' families were here. From Pendleton's nephew, with cotton wool sticking out of his 10-week-old ears. To Chris Hoy's dear old dad, shouting and cheering at the end of the velodrome.
Cue the Hoy masks
And the emotional feeling? One of pride. The national flag had been reclaimed, people said.
"Hoy Ho, Hoy Ho, It's off to gold we go," read one patriotic banner. Fans wore mostly red, white and blue. Some donned the eerie paper Chris Hoy face masks, and inflatable thighs.
Hours after watching Alistair Brownlee break the tape at the triathlon finishing line in Hyde Park, proud Yorkshirewoman Jill Heseltine was watching the union flag flutter out from cyclists' backs on a victory lap of the track.
"It's fantastic," she said. "For Britain, for cycling. I'm just so glad to be here, I can't believe it."
Police officers, brought south from Hoy's homeland to help guard the Olympics had dewy eyes. "I think there will be quite a few parties celebrating up the road," said PC Fiona Ramsay, from Fife.
Volunteers said how proud they were to have worked and witnessed. Spectators felt the joy inside was spilling out onto the streets.
"When I was a kid, it would have taken five Olympics to get so many gold medals," said Stewart Nisbet. "The mood has been phenomenal. People are cheerful and happy, even on the Tube, people are talking more."
There was reason too for Australia to cheer. The country has had a rough Games by its high standards, missing out on some of its "sure thing" medals. But Anna Meares took women's sprint gold.
And yes, she cried.