As a track cycling illiterate I've avoided paying close attention to the Velodrome until watching today's heats in the men's keirin. And I immediately had one question: who is the dude in black on the pace vehicle? The Guardian tells me about the Derny and its rider.
It's the history of the Keirin itself that I find more fascinating. Its origins in Japan as a gambling event, which conjures up comparisons for me with greyhound racing (and the Derny as the electronic rabbit). I can just imagine my all-time favourite film director, Akira Kurosawa, making a movie out of the sport in his early days.
With the second round and finals later today, Sir Chris Hoy is the hot local favourite to claim his second consecutive Olympic keirin, and his sixth gold medal. Australia's Shane Perkins has qualified for the second round via the repechage, thus keeping punsters like myself in business for a few hours longer.
On the track this morning, Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake have both breezed through their heats of the 200 metres, but the big news was the failure yet again of China's Liu Xiang in his heat of the 110 metres hurdles, literally falling at the first hurdle. Xinhua has a report and picture gallery of Liu's calamitous race.
Back to keirin, this video of a particularly physical race in Japan in 1996 has more than 320,000 views for some reason. Nonetheless, it's won me as a spectator sport: