Laura Kenny, Britain’s Most Successful Female Olympian, Officially Retires From Cycling

Dame Laura Kenny is Britain’s most successful female Olympian. She recently announced in an exclusive interview that she would be retiring from the sport of cycling.

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Laura Kenny is the most successful female Olympian in Britain with five Olympic gold medals and seven World Championship titles. In a recent exclusive interview with BBC Breakfast, Kenny discussed where she’s currently at in life, announcing that she is officially retiring from cycling. 

“I always knew deep down I would know when the right time was, I have had an absolute blast but now is the time for me to hang that bike up,” Kenny stated. Kenny is also married to former cyclist Sir Jason Kenny, who is the most decorated male British Olympian. 

“It’s been in my head for a little while, the sacrifices of leaving the children and your family at home are really quite big and it really is a big decision to make. More and more, I was struggling to do that. More people asking me what races I was doing, what training camps was I going on – I didn’t want to go ultimately and that’s what it came down to,” she said. 

“I knew the minute I was getting those feelings. Once I said to Jase, ‘I don’t think I want to ride a bike any more, I started to feel relief.” 

Kenny gave birth to her first son in 2017, and she recently gave birth to her second child in July. Back in 2017, she was motivated to return to cycling to prove that athletes can balance motherhood and their career. When it came time to think about competing in the Paris 2024 Olympics, her hesitant feelings about returning to the sport only grew stronger.

“I was getting these hesitant feelings. Going on to win another gold medal, as much as I would love to do that, it wasn’t giving me the energy I wanted any more, it just wasn’t. I wasn’t thinking, ‘I really want to go on and win one.’ I was thinking, ‘I really want to stay at home with the children.’”

Kenny then discussed the difficulties she faced when traveling with her child Albie during her bid to compete in the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“Taking Albie around the world, traveling around the world with him and qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics was absolute carnage. I think Jason and I had this way of painting this really beautiful, easy picture and the picture that everyone wants: you can have a baby, you can come back and you can go on to win a gold medal – and it looks easy, and I’m telling you, it was far from easy, it was absolute carnage,” she told Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4.

“There were so many sacrifices along the way; there were so many flights I had to book here, there and everywhere. It was expensive. It worked, yes. But it didn’t come without some serious heartbreak and sacrifices, she continued. 

Kenny was the first British woman to win a gold medal at three consecutive Olympics, and is the most successful female cyclist in Games history. 

Andy Anson, chief executive officer of the British Olympic Association, discussed how Kenny’s entire career has been “extraordinary.”

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“Her talent, dedication, resilience and brilliant personality will have inspired many and I have no doubt will continue to do so over years to come. She is a true legend of British Olympic sport.”

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Kenny was made a Dame at the 2021 New Year’s Honors, stating that when it comes to her future, she’s “open to doing anything and everything.” 

When it comes to this year’s Olympics in Paris, Kenny intends on being at the games in some way. Before she announced her retirement, she spoke about her intention for the future and her career: 

“There’s nothing set in stone but there are things I’m so interested in doing. Something to help the younger generation, whether that could be some kind of academy. I could never be a coach because that’s just too much pressure for me, but maybe something in the background that would help the youngsters have the opportunities I had,” she said. 

Many of Kenny’s former teammates and other notable figures in sports went online to wish her the best, discussing her legendary career in cycling. 

“[Congratulations on a] fabulous career. But most importantly thank you for ensuring there was never a dull moment on the journey,” said Joanna Rowsell who won team pursuit gold with Kenny in both 2012 and 2016.

Dani Rowe, who was also part of the team pursuit quartet in London, wrote “thank you for being you. You haven’t changed one bit. Even after all of your success. I’m SO proud of you, on and off the bike.”

“The way you lead and grow a group of people has always been so, so impressive. Thank you for everything you have done for British sport,” Road cyclist Mark Cavendish said.