Kenny: Success in Tokyo would be my biggest achievement

Kenny has continued to be an inspiration throughout her cycling career

Laura Kenny is already a four-time Olympic champion but, following a life-changing period away from the velodrome, she believes victory in Tokyo would top the lot.

The 27-year-old track cyclist celebrated the birth of her first child a year after the Rio 2016 Games with husband Jason, and the initial signs suggested she would ease back into the saddle.

But within six months of the arrival of Albie, Kenny was back among the world’s elite – making her international comeback at the track World Championships.

She herself admits she was a long way from being the athlete that won team pursuit and omnium gold in Brazil, and 18 months on has only recently started to feel back to her best.

While adapting to life as a parent has presented its own challenges for both Laura and Jason – who is Britain’s equal-highest Olympic gold medallist – she has had to overcome obstacles on the track which she claims would make glory taste even sweeter next summer.

“Success in Tokyo would probably be among my biggest achievements because I’ve never really had to come back from anything before,” said Kenny, speaking at the launch of HSBC UK People’s Peloton campaign.

“I don’t like to call it a comeback because it’s not as if I’ve been injured or anything – it was a choice to have a child.

“But last year was the toughest I’ve had so far. There were a series of ups and downs because it isn’t as simple as getting on a bike and it being OK again. Aspects like rebuilding my core took a lot longer than I expected.

“I came back quickly but not even nearly to a level I wanted to be at. I never expected to be there and even at the European Championships last year – which was my first real target – I felt terrible.

“Even though I won two gold medals, I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared and I felt like a fish out of water.

“Then, after slowly getting back into it in the World Cup season, I got ill at the World Championships which was difficult to take.

“But I’ve had a really good summer and have put all that aside now. I’m firmly focused on what I want to achieve in Tokyo.”

Kenny hopes to compete in three races at next summer’s Games in Japan, bidding to add Madison glory to her team pursuit and omnium tally.

And with son Albie now a firm member of her supporters’ club on the road, Kenny explains how important her support network has been in adjusting to returning to competition.

“My life is completely different at this stage than it was before London or Rio. It’s a logistical nightmare, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” added Kenny, who will call on the nation to share their messages of support – including social posts and videos – for British riders through a short launch video, ahead of the upcoming Road World Championships.

“We’re really lucky because both mine and Jason’s parents have retired and moved close to us, to help us with Albie.

“They have to travel the world too, because if we’re both racing, he needs looking after. That support is essential and is going to be crucial in Tokyo.

“It’s going to be tough when we’re in the athletes’ village, and I imagine Jessica Ennis-Hill will be getting a phone call or two. She’s been incredibly supportive with helping me get back into the sport.

“I’m sacrificing a lot being away from Albie, so I’m eager to make the most of that time on the track, and I’ll certainly be looking to do that in Tokyo.”

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 here.

People can share their messages of support online with the hashtag #peoplespeloton and tagging @HSBC_Sport.