2022 Commonwealth Games;
Venue: Lee Valley VeloPark, London;
Dates: July 29 – August 1, 2022
Laura Kenny felt an intense sensation of déjà vu as she walked through the door of her Airbnb.
“As though I’d been here before,” she said.
She wore a similar outfit at the London 2012 Olympics, if not a replica. Ten years on, she’s accidentally rented an Olympic athletes’ village flat for the Commonwealth Games.
This time, she’ll live with her parents and son Albie, rather than her former housemate Dani King.
The days of comfortable sleep before a competition are long gone. She’ll be sleeping in the same bed as a four-year-old this time.
Having won her first two Olympic gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics, Kenny remarks, “I can’t believe it’s been ten years.”
“It’s more than I ever thought was possible for me,” says the recipient.
As of now, the 30-year-old is the most decorated female athlete in British Olympic history, with four golds and a silver to her name. Seven global championships and fourteen European championships later, she has earned the title “Dame” for her achievements.
On Friday, however, the London velodrome will host the Commonwealth Games, bringing her back to the boards where she first gained notoriety.
Team England’s Kenny is looking forward to a journey down memory lane while the track cycling takes place in London.
“I adore every aspect of it. Smells bring back memories even when I’m merely walking down the stairs, “she explained.
“It’s always been and always will be my favourite song. Because I grew up so close to this velodrome, it will always seem home to me.”
The only Commonwealth Games gold Kenny has won in the 2014 points race in Glasgow, which she skipped to give birth to her son Albie just a few months earlier.
As a result of Covid-19 restrictions, Albie won’t be able to see his mother compete in London for the first time, but he’ll be able to see his father, Jason, coach Team England at the Commonwealth Games.
In the words of Kenny, “I have no idea what to expect coming into this race.” “Only three sessions on the track in the last month, so we haven’t gotten much practise.
“If that had happened to me previously, I would have been frightened and sitting here in a panic, but now I’m excited to go back on my bike and race.
“I feel like I’ve got low expectations, which may seem ridiculous to people on the outside, but I’m in a reasonably relaxed state right now.
“I’m not going into this competition with any high hopes. The fact that I’ve made it here is all that matters.”
Life is more than just a ride on a bike.
Kenny had no idea he’d be attending these Olympics. Following the Tokyo Olympics in July, she became pregnant and had a miscarriage at nine weeks in November. She subsequently had an ectopic pregnancy in January.
Even months after the incident, she speaks frankly about the shift in perspective it brought and the strengthening of her enthusiasm for riding a motorcycle.
“For me, January marked a turning point. Without Jason, I would have thrown in the towel and given up, “she remarked.
“Going out and riding my bike again seemed like an obvious solution for me at that point, especially given how discouraged I was feeling.
“Once I got back into the swing of things and realised that I had muscle memory as an athlete, I never considered not competing again.
“Many things became apparent as a result of this. Seeing Jason and how he was around me made me realise how much stress I had imposed on my family. We didn’t intend it that way, but I believe it made us realise that riding is one thing, but living is entirely else.
“Also sent us crashing back down to earth, but it made you wonder, “Why am I doing this? “. Because I’m having so much fun, I decided to keep doing it.”
To put it another way, Kenny is going into the Commonwealth Games with a completely different mentality than she did when she entered the team pursuit, scratch race, and points race.
She said, “I’m at ease about the whole scenario.”
“The Commonwealth Games weren’t a target for us because we were intending on having another child by now. I don’t know if that’s the reason.
“I’m more at ease than I’ve ever been. It’s nearly making me happier. It’s rare, especially in London, to perform in front of a home crowd again, so this is a massive thrill for me.
“London is my favourite city in the world.”