Eyes once locked on the track flicked immediately to a scoreboard to confirm what had become strangely obvious, although all had passed in a blur. Team GB had won the men's team sprint, beating France. Sir Chris Hoy had led his team to victory and claimed his fifth gold medal.
"I knew I had to put every ounce into it and when I threw the bike across the line and heard the roar I knew we had done it. It is the most memorable goal medal of my career," he said.
The noise shook the velodrome in the Olympic Park and Hoy stumbled from his bike into a series of hugs with team-mates, coaches, and support staff. It was a sign that this was a team effort which stretched far beyond the wonderful singularity of Hoy. It is a notion he physically embraced on the greatest sporting night of his life.
Cycling is a matter of taking every ounce of effort and throwing it against opponents and the clock. It is appropriate then to give details of the Team GB achievement as a matter of record.
Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Hoy, the Great Scot, broke the world record in the final of the team sprint, clocking 42.600 seconds. They broke the Olympic record in qualifying with a time of 43.065sec, then broke the world record in their next ride in round one against Japan, clocking 42.747sec. It is a night's work that can be measured in time but it can only be met by a sense of awe.
However, there was more. This was a very British drama in an atmosphere that would have drowned out fight night in Tijuana. The crowning glory of the men's sprint –witnessed by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the prime minister – was preceded by two astonishing episodes. The first was the British team pursuit quartet of Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh, Ed Clancy and Steven Burke breaking a world record as they proved fastest ahead of the today's final.
Then there was the awful twist of Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Varnish being disqualified from the women's team sprint for an illegal change in their semi-final against Ukraine. Germany won the final after China were disqualified for a similar error.
Hoy had a hug for Pendleton before his races but he could not remember what he said. He did recall he had listened to Escape Velocity by the Chemical Brothers and had to survive a moment of danger when Hindes fell in the opening round and the race was re-run. From then, it was a display of unmitigated power by the riders. Hindes, the 19-year-old who defected from Germany, was the rider who set the pace in the first lap; Kenny, 24, took it up with a blistering bravado and Hoy, 36, took his boys to the gold.
This pulsating procession in the final was accompanied by guttural outpourings from the stands. The scenes were astonishing, the noise in the arena was like a force assaulting the ears. The Union flags were waved with abandon.
In the mass of this red, white and blue, a banner flopped almost apologetically over the side of the barrier. Adorned by Saltires, it read: "The Real McHoy". It is a piece of family memorabilia that accompanies the Edinburgh cyclist on his tours of triumph. It was unfurled by his father, David, and mother, Carol.
"He has improved yet again, you can't say better than that," said the proudest of dads. "Five gold medals? It's brilliant, just wonderful. I'm absolutely, enormously proud to have him as my son."
The crowd expressed a similar joy but at a higher decibel level. Hoy, sodden by sweat and looking drained, did a lap of honour that brought sustained acclaim. His every move was cheered, his every wave met by an outpouring of joy. Hindes stumbled towards a steward asking desperately for water and Kenny seemed almost disoriented. The heroes were led past the tribune of the press and, though they could not speak, their faces told of the exertion that had occurred in an arena that suddenly gasped for air.
They emerged minutes later to walk to the centre of the podium.The national anthem was sung, turning an uproar into still silence. Hoy wept.
"You work on controlling your emotions in competition but when you cross the line you can let it go," he said. "I was trying not to cry on the podium and look like a big baby. It's a very emotional moment, especially in front of your home crowd."
He failed at holding back the tears but the motif of his professional life has been success leavened by humility.
It was instructive to watch him at the post-race conference. The beaten riders of France and of bronze medallists Germany queued to offer him congratulations. Every request from the staff who escorted him from interview to interview was met by one quiet response: "Sure".
Congratulations were accepted but Hoy would not make any claims to greatness. He has now equalled Sir Steve Redgrave's haul of five medals. "I don't think what he has achieved will ever be bettered because he did it in five consecutive Games, especially in such a physically demanding sport," said Hoy.
Hoy, of course, has six Olympic medals as he has also won silver. He laughed when asked if he is no setting sights on the seven – four gold – won by Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 time trial champion and Tour de France winner.
"Bradley? He isn't just a superstar, he's a megastar. What he's done for the sport of cycling will probably never be equalled."
Hoy will today take a gentle recovery ride, watch some DVDs of his performance to look for improvement and discuss tactics for the keirin on Tuesday. This is an opportunity to win his sixth gold.
Last night it was about the fifth, about 42 seconds of unimaginable effort by three great sportsmen. And it was about Hoy. "I have never suffered like that," he said, taking a gulp of water. "It was horrible."
It was also wonderful, spectacular and unforgettable.
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