Laura Kenny is determined to succeed at next summer’s Olympic Games and prove it is possible to juggle family with a commitment to elite sport.
The 27-year-old gave birth to son Albie a year after claiming two of four Olympic gold medals at Rio 2016, and has since endured a series of challenges on her path back to the top.
Battles with the physical demands of being one of the world’s most decorated track cyclists, along with the logistical questions raised when starting a family, have proved tough for both Kenny and her husband Jason.
Being a mum at this age was always part of her plan, and ahead of a third Olympic Games she insists she is more focused than ever to add to her tally.
Speaking at the launch of HSBC UK’s People’s Peloton campaign, she said: “I want to show that you can have both.
“As an athlete it’s easy to get wrapped up in the sport and think it’s the be all and end all. I used to be like that.
“I used to think cycling was my whole life, but I want to show everyone that if you’re willing to put the work in, it is possible to enjoy family life as well.
“Having Albie has brought a whole new outlook to my life. When I’m away from him I’m sacrificing that time, so I’m determined to make the most of it.
“It’s been tough and there have been lots of setbacks, but I feel I’m getting back to where I was before and I’m enjoying balancing my time between being on the bike and being a mum.”
Kenny is helping support HSBC UK’s People’s Peloton by encouraging the public to lift the Great Britain Cycling Team at the ongoing Road World Championships.
The team have already tasted success with the mixed relay team winning a surprise bronze medal on the opening weekend of action.
Away from the road, the track star is helping change perceptions when it comes to pregnancy elite sport – identifying the likes of athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill and tennis star Serena Williams, who have both returned to the top-level – and is hopeful that boundaries can continue to be broken.
“Success never happens in isolation.” 🗣@Jamil_Qureshi— HSBC Sport (@HSBC_Sport) September 23, 2019
Join @LauraKenny31 and show your support for @BritishCycling at @Yorkshire2019 by uploading a message of support using #PeoplesPeloton and tagging @HSBC_Sport. pic.twitter.com/c5Thsuq1it
Ennis-Hill in particular has played a key role in Kenny’s comeback. Having returned to sport’s ultimate stage and added heptathlon silver at Rio 2016 to her gold from four years earlier, she has been on hand to offer crucial support and advice.
“The support Jason and I have received has been essential,” Kenny said. “Both from our parents and British Cycling.
“When we’ve competed away, they’ve accommodated our parents to make sure Albie can be looked after. Certain old rules about family members staying with the competitors have been abolished which is really positive.
“Throughout my pregnancy my sponsors committed to me and I think that was a big step forward. Without that I’d have lost everything, but it’s showed there’s less pressure for female athletes to come back so soon after being pregnant which is really important.
“Jessica Ennis-Hill has been unbelievable. She’s always on the end of the phone whenever I need her, and she even sent me a list of exercises to do when I was first getting back into training.
“She’ll probably be getting a phone call at some point during the Olympics, because I’m going to struggle being away from Albie.
“But success in Tokyo would be among my biggest achievements and I’m focused on what I need to do to get to where I need to be.”
HSBC UK‘s People’s Peloton encourages the public to share messages of support with the Great Britain Cycling Team to drive them to victory during the UCI Road World Championships. The People’s Peloton video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/_u-oSGRyCIA.
People can share their messages of support online with the hashtag #peoplespeloton and tagging @HSBC_Sport.