Double gold medal winner Laura Trott is discovering that unless you happen to be Ben Ainslie or some similar nautical type, life as an Olympic champion is far from plain sailing. First the Royal Mail paints a postbox gold in the wrong town, then you get linked romantically with Prince Harry (wrong) and Jason Kenny (right), and finally your friends and family have to deal with council bureaucracy in order to celebrate your success. The omnium elimination race must seem a doddle by comparison.
The Telegraph had reported yesterday that plans by Trott’s family and friends to hold a street party in her honour had been scuppered by bureaucracy due to requirements to apply for a licence which can take several weeks to go through the system.
No doubt mindful of being seen as potential party poopers by a nation still buoyed by the success of its Olympians, both Hertfordshire County Council and Broxbourne Borough Council swung into action, and it looks as though the cyclist will get her party sooner rather than later.
Leader of Hertfordshire County Council, Robert Gordon, quoted by the Telegraph, said: “Hertfordshire County Council and Broxbourne Borough Council have been aware for a couple of days that family and friends of Cheshunt gold medallist Laura Trott wanted to throw a street party in celebration of her splendid achievement.
"Both councils quickly indicated their support for the party but needed details of the event so that they could ensure that it would face no problems.
"The powers for road closures under these circumstances lie with the borough council and they have confirmed that they will be granting permission for the closure.
“In addition, they're actively working with the family to help them with their preparations.
"We're very proud of our Olympians and are keen to do all we can to help them celebrate with their local communities. We hope the Trotts and their neighbours have a great time."
Last week, the Royal Mail, which has been painting postboxes up and down the country gold in celebration of the nation’s Olympic champions, got the brushes to work on one in Harlow, Essex, Trott’s birthplace, following her victory in the team pursuit alongside Dani King and Joanna Rowsell.
The only problem was that Trott actually grew up elsewhere – Cheshunt, in neighbouring Hertfordshire. Sir Chris Hoy joked on Twitter that she’d have to win a second gold medal, and the 20-year-old duly obliged in the omnium. Problem solved.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail website, among others, ran pictures of Trott and fellow gold medal winner Jason Kenny all over each other at the beach volleyball last week. It turned out they’d been dating since June, but were keeping it quiet until after their competitions finished.
Perhaps the New Zealand government protects its unsuspecting citizens by blocking them from accessing the Mail website (now there’s an idea – ed), or perhaps the photographer who papped those snaps of the happy couple was looking for another angle, but MSN.co.nz flew spectacularly wide of the mark when it published photos taken at the same event of Trott and Prince Harry.
Under the headline, “Prince Harry's date with a cycling gold medallist,” the website gushed: “Twenty-four hours after she won gold in the women's omnium, British cyclist Laura Trott scored an even more enviable prize – a date with Prince Harry.
“Harry watched Laura, 20, ride to victory and was so impressed with her athleticism he asked her out the following day.
“The prince took Laura to the final of his favourite sport, the women's beach volleyball, where they spent the day laughing and chatting.
“Laura, a double gold medal winner, is certainly Harry's type – the prince almost exclusively dates leggy blondes.”
The captions to the first dozen pictures in the gallery of 14, most of them showing Trott on the left and Prince Harry on the right, certainly seemed to imply the couple were a good match for each other.
But what’s this in the 13th – and unlucky for Harry, presumably – picture? Why, it’s a slightly wider shot with nw boyfriend, and fellow double London 2012 gold medallist, Jason Kenny sitting next to Trott, as he had been throughout, albeit out of shot.
Or, as the caption has it, “Harry and Laura chat to another cyclist.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.