Week 250 (28 July - 3 August)
Sports fans in the UK would have forgiven Laura Kenny if she had decided to take a prolonged break from cycling after the birth of her first child last August.
But the 26-year-old Harlow born athlete, who is Great Britain's most successful female Olympian of all time, has stated how her child with six-time Olympic gold medallist husband Jason Kenny has provided them both with a newfound motivation in the sport.
As Albert “Albie” Kenny approaches his first birthday, Laura Kenny has discussed how the birth of their son has encouraged the pair, touted by an adoring nation as the “golden couple”, to strive for even more track success in the future.
Speaking ahead of the European Championships in Glasgow, Kenny said:
“When I get on my bike and I am finding it hard, I do think ‘oh just think how proud Albie would be if you can just get through this’ and so it does put a completely different spin on it.”
Kenny’s comeback has certainly not been easy. At her return to competitive action at the Track Cycling World Championships in March this year, she was, by her own admission, “useless for the last kilometre.” But even for Kenny to be competing at the highest level six months after the birth, and with only four months’ training, was highly impressive. In fact, she was not even supposed to compete at the event, and only stepped in after the Great Britain team became plagued by injuries and illness.
Since then, Kenny has combined the rigors of an Olympic athlete’s training regime with the excitement, but unpredictability, of parenthood. And whilst being a parent comes first, the life-changing moment of Albie’s birth has given both his parents extra motivation to succeed.
“If it wasn’t for Albie, I don’t think Jason would have carried on. When he said he’d retired after Rio, he wasn’t joking. He genuinely didn’t train for a year. But once Albie came along, it was like he had this new motivation all over again and I think it has driven him to carry on and to be better than he was before.
“I want Albie to go to Tokyo to see me and Jason race well, I want him to have those experiences and he won’t get them if we are not at our best.”
After the inspirational comeback of tennis star Serena Williams this year, following the birth of her first child, Kenny has reinforced the message that not only is it possible to return to the top of elite sport after giving birth, it has the ability make you even better than before.
As she looks to return to the podium at the European Championships, Laura Kenny’s candid discussion about the realities of being an elite athlete and a mum at the same time, and how it has motivated her to continue her success in sport, makes her JTA Communicator of the Week.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons