Dame Laura Kenny defies doubts about lifting Commonwealth gold in scratch race

Dame Laura Kenny defies doubts about lifting Commonwealth gold in scratch race

Dame Laura Kenny delivered Commonwealth gold for England in Monday’s scratch race and then revealed she had gone to bed on Sunday wondering if this would be her last competitive ride.

The five-time Olympic champion has been going through a traumatic period since last summer’s Tokyo Games, suffering a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy.

She has spoken of cycling as her safety blanket but the competitive pressures have been a drag in recent months and she was disappointed with her form over the weekend.

“Yesterday I thought it was my last bike race,” Kenny said. “I just didn’t like everything about it. Even before the start I didn’t know if I could do it.

“(But) I walked in this morning with a completely different mindset and I was like, ‘Of course you can do that.’ I said to myself in the toilet, ‘You have to race as Laura Trott’, this old motorcyclist who thought of nothing else than crossing the finish line first.

“When I changed my mindset, I just felt completely different.”

Cheered on by a London crowd reaching decibel levels reminiscent of the 2012 Olympics, Kenny certainly rode like the old rut, saving a speed boost for the final laps to take the win ahead of New Zealand’s Michaela Drummond and Canada’s Maggie Coles-Lyster to gain. That’s when the emotions broke out.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games - Day Four

Laura Kenny saved a late speed boost to take the win (John Walton/PA)

“I watched Adam Peaty and the way he thought about his build. He said he hasn’t really felt the spark in training and competing for the past two years, and that’s very much like me,” said Kenny, who also pointed to the departure of coach Monica Greenwood and an injury to Madison’s partner Katie Archibald there.

“You know, when you get so much bad news it makes you feel a little lost. I would say since everything that happened to me personally and then Monica is gone, I’ve felt lost.

“Obviously everything that happened to Katie, when Katie said to me she doesn’t think she can do the Commies and then the Euros, I felt like someone ripped my right arm off… I just felt like I wouldn’t have anything.”

Kenny has already spoken to British Cycling about potentially skipping next week’s European Championships and taking his time before October’s Worlds.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games - Day Four

Laura Kenny celebrated her win on the same track in London where she made her Olympic breakthrough in 2012 (John Walton/PA)

A return to the London Velodrome brought back happy memories of 2012, but also a level of anticipation and pressure Kenny felt as she described herself as the weak link in the team pursuit team that won the bronze medal on Friday, or as she competed in the points race at the finished 13th on Sunday.

“Everyone here wanted to see me cross the line first,” she said. “It’s a lot of pressure to be pressured again afterwards…

“It took every last bit of energy to get myself to that starting line today. Last night I honestly had to say, ‘This could be it. This could literally be your last bike race. You have to fight for it and make sure that in this case you have to leave the house with a bang.

“And I can’t do this every day. I can’t sit up like that every day.”

In that regard, she said her Commonwealth gold was one of her best moments to date.

“To have to go through all that and then try to assert myself in front of a home crowd, in a way I’m more proud of that than a lot of the other Olympic medals I’ve won,” she said.

Kenny’s win was England’s only gold in the velodrome, although they contributed to the medal win on Monday’s final day when Sophie Capewell took silver in the women’s keirin and Ollie Wood took bronze in the men’s points race.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.