CYCLIST Chris Newton was celebrating last night after becoming Teesside's first Olympic medallist for 52 years.

The 26-year-old from Stockton won a superb bronze in the 400m Team Pursuit.

Newton and British teammates Paul Manning, Bradley Wiggins and Bryan Steel, smashed the British record in 4min 01.979sec as they eased to victory over France in the bronze medal clash at the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney.

The last medallist from Teesside was Norton-born Michael Walford, who claimed a silver medal in the men's hockey competition in the London Games of 1948.

Teesside have only provided two other Olympic medallists, including Guisborough sprinter William Applegarth, who claimed a 4x100m relay gold and bronze in the 200m at the 1912 Games in Stockholm.

Middlesbrough swimmer Jack Hatfield took two silvers and a bronze in the freestyle programme at the same games.

But Britain's latest cycling success - their fourth medal so far - ended on a sour note when Rob Hayles launched a verbal broadside at team bosses over his omission from the winning team.

The Stockport-based rider was left fuming after team coach Steve Paulding decided to reinstate Steel and Newton alongside Manning and Wiggins.

That quartet had set an Olympic record in their opening round, but Hayles and Jon Clay came into the team to further improve the national record, despite losing their semi final to Ukraine.

But the original quartet were then reunited for the bronze race-off and improved the British record for the third time in 24 hours.

Hayles, who was scheduled to compete in the Men's Points Race today, claims he told Paulding he would forgo that event to concentrate on the pursuit, only then to discover he would not be competing in the final, while his ride in the Points Race has gone to Clay.

His misery was further compounded by the fact that under International Cycling Union regulations, he and Clay will both miss out on a medal, having not ridden in either two rounds of the event or the final, whereas under normal Olympic regulations, all riders competing in an event collect medals.

''I said to the coach I wanted to be involved in the team, because I was sure we could give the Germans (who took gold in a world record time) a run for their money, and on that basis I said I would pull out of the Points Race,'' explained Hayles.

''So when they made the decision straight after the semi-final, myself and Jon were hacked off to say the least. I just packed my bags and left.

''Jonny has spent all year with the team whereas I haven't, but it is the way the decisions have been made. It wasn't the way we were given to believe it would be done."

Hayles' indignation appears to have been fuelled by his own misfortune in the individual pursuit, when he missed out on the bronze medal by 0.36sec on Sunday night.

Team manager Peter Keen defended their move, insisting the decision to switch riders and utilise all six members of the squad was justified by the end result.

''It was an astonishing performance and we did it with all the firepower we have and I stand by what we have done,'' he said.

Hayles still has one event left, competing with Wiggins in the Madison event today.