Laura Kenny doesn’t need to look far for her Olympic inspiration – her toddler Albie is the only motivation she needs.
Cathy Freeman famously spoke about dreaming of winning Olympic gold and then seeing her motivation evaporate the moment she achieved her dream.
Four golds and counting, this certainly does not apply to Kenny, already Britain’s most successful female Olympian.
And while six-time Olympic champion Allyson Felix has spoken of her new perspective since returning to athletics following the birth of her first child, Kenny’s fire only burns brighter with Tokyo in sight. Kenny said;
“This time round I’m probably even more motivated.
“It will be the first time Albie has been in a velodrome and I want him to be able to see that if you put the hard work in, it pays off.
“I wouldn’t be going out for three-hour rides in the chucking rain if I didn’t really want this badly.“In London, I was only 20 and I never expected to even get to the Games, never mind win two golds. Then in Rio I wanted to prove I wasn’t a one-hit wonder – not just to the outside world but to myself as well.
“The fact I’ve done it twice before doesn’t really matter. I want to prove to people I can do it again, and I also want to prove you can do it with a child.
“Albie brings a whole different aspect to it – it’s a little bit more chaotic than it was before, but in a good way I think.
“I get back from camp and I’m thrown straight into being a mum again, and it just makes me feel so much more relaxed.
“You just forget about anything you’ve done prior to that and I’m just living in the moment with Albie because that’s all he cares about.
“I do think it makes me more relaxed and I just don’t have the time to sit there and think about what went well or what didn’t.”
Kenny has grown up before our eyes, winning two golds at London 2012 before being pictured swigging beer and laughing with Prince Harry and David Beckham alongside then new boyfriend, now husband, Jason.
Promptly dubbed the Posh and Becks of cycling, between them they’ve won ten Olympic gold medals – meaning the Kenny household is just ahead of Estonia, Slovakia and Thailand on the all-time medal table, with Belarus in their sights.
However, all the growing up is now being done by the toddler nipping at her heels. Added Kenny, among the Team GB athletes being supported by Purplebricks;
“The Olympics is going to be our longest time away from him.
“I’ve done a week because I obviously go away on training camps, but Jason’s always been at home and he has never gone a night without one of us there.
“It’s one of those things which we’re just not going to think about because I don’t want to get stressed or worried.
“A lot of people have said ‘why don’t we try him with a night away now?’, but that puts the fear of God into me. If I think he’s not settled, how on earth am I going to leave him for two and a half weeks?”
Jason Kenny needs one more gold to overtake Sir Chris Hoy as Britain’s most successful Olympian while his wife is targeting three events – the team pursuit and omnium, which she won in 2012 and 2016, and the return of cycling’s dizzying Madison.
Since returning to the track in early 2018, Kenny has picked up two silvers at world level, while she claimed her 13th European title in the team pursuit in October, alongside two further second-place finishes in the omnium and Madison events in the Netherlands.
While admitting she has been somewhat disappointed by her preparations, Kenny believes a strong showing at February’s World Championships in Berlin is all she needs.
“If I can do well at the Worlds it will be a good marker ahead of Tokyo.
“The World Championships isn’t my main target with the Olympics so close, it’s still really important and I want to perform there.”
Despite the ever-ticking countdown to Tokyo, Kenny insists the demands of becoming a mother have helped her cope effectively with the pressures of being an elite athlete.
And just as her teenage self yearned for the opportunity to represent her country at the highest level, she admits she simply can’t wait to get back out on the Olympic stage. She said;
“I used to get so worked up and stressed about how I could keep improving, but now I just do what I need to do and then straightaway I’m at home and back to being a mum.
“I think I’m a lot more relaxed now. I don’t have as much time to just sit there and think about things and that’s taken a lot of the nervousness away.”
Laura Kenny appears in new TV adverts from Purplebricks, The Official Estate Agent of Team GB. Visit @PurplebricksUK on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube.