WITH the Tokyo Olympic games just six months away, six-time Olympic gold medallist, Jason Kenny, believes Scot Jack Carlin is the benchmark for all British track sprinters this season.

Kenny has been the stand-out male cyclist in recent Olympics, winning gold and silver in 2008, two golds in 2012 before claiming a hat-trick of golds at Rio in 2016.

However, despite his pedigree, Carlin has really taken it to his elder statesman in recent seasons, with the 22-year-old from Paisley bursting onto the scene winning World, European and Commonwealth medals over the past couple of seasons.

Carlin has yet to make his Olympic debut, but with Tokyo 2020 just months away, it is Carlin who Kenny thinks everyone on the British sprint should be striving to match.

“He’s really stepped up this season, there’s no doubt about that,” said Kenny.

“He’s made that second position (in the team sprint) his own and he’s been our benchmark in the sprint and keirin for a couple of years.”

Rather than being miffed at being usurped at the top of the pile though, Kenny has been delighted to see the Scot develop into a rider of such calibre.

And particularly as the team sprint, which Kenny and Carlin are both part of, is a very real chance for Olympic gold, the Englishman is delighted to see his fellow sprinter flourishing.

However, that doesn’t stop things getting competitive in training though.

“He’s going really well an that’s nice because form’s contagious, when someone goes well, it drags everyone on so it’s good that we’re all bouncing off each other and it’s a pretty good atmosphere at the moment,” he said.

“Naturally, it’s pretty competitive – everyone wants to be the best but the main thing is the team sprint and we focus on that and look after that and to do that, we need each other so it pulls everyone together.”

The pair will go head-to-head this weekend at the British Track Cycling Championships, which take place in Manchester.

The event begins on Friday and Kenny and Carlin could well face each other in the individual sprint, while Ryan Owens and Joe Trueman will also be gunning for sprint titles.

However, with Kenny eyeing further Olympic success in Tokyo, it is the team sprint which he says he prefers.

The Englishman’s six Olympic gold medals mean that, along with Chris Hoy, who also has six golds, he is GB’s most successful Olympian.

The Tokyo Games will give him the chance to claim the accolade for himself and while the competition is stiff, there is every chance that the British squad come up with the goods in the team sprint, as they have in the past three Olympic Games.

“Team sprint-wide, we’ve got a real benchmark this season with the Dutch. Every cycle, some team seems to take charge – last time, it was the Kiwis, this cycle it’s the Dutch so we’ve got a marker that we’re shooting for, along with everyone else,” the 31-year-old said.

“I like the team event. It pulls everyone together – it pulls the staff in too and, when it does go well, it’s nice to enjoy it together. The individual events are a little bit lonely at the end of the day when everyone goes home and you’re left on your own.”

Carlin will not be the only Scot gunning for titles this weekend. Others to watch out for are Olympic champion Katie Archibald, as well as Neah Evans and John Archibald.