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Tension mounted inside the venue, as the race twice had to be restarted because of technical infringements. The unflappable Kenny kept his nerve to equal the British record for gold medals set by fellow track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.
Kenny had too much pace down the final stretch, recovering from a slow start to finish just clear of second placed Matthijs Buchli of the Netherlands. There was a first ever cycling medal for Malaysia, as Azizulhasni Awang took bronze.
It was Kenny’s third triumph in Rio, following his golds in the team sprint and the men's sprint. It was also his first ever keirin title, with all of his previous five golds having come in the team or individual sprint.
After his victory, he embraced his fiancee and fellow gold medal winner Laura Trott, who was in tears in the centre of the track. Trott had earlier in the evening retained her women’s omnium title, meaning that the couple now have a total of 10 Olympic gold medals between them. Sir Chris Hoy, the sprint cyclist great whose record gold haul Kenny has now matched, cheered on from the balcony.
"It just felt like a dream. I guess I'm tired. I was just floating through it," said an uncharacteristically emotional Kenny afterwards. “I'm proud to be part of the team's Olympic success and doing my bit. It’s pretty amazing to be level with Chris [Hoy].
The 28-year-old’s victory rounded off the track cycling programme, in which Team GB's men and women won six golds, four silvers and one bronze.