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Track cycling great Laura Kenny announces retirement

With five Olympic golds Dame Laura Kenny retires as Britain's most successful female Olympian and also won seven World Championship titles during her distinguished career...

Britain's most successful female Olympian, track cyclist Dame Laura Kenny, has announced her retirement from cycling.

The 31-year-old won two golds at the 2012 Olympics in London before enjoying further success in Rio and Tokyo, retiring today with five Olympic golds, one Olympic silver and seven World Championship titles.

This summer's upcoming Olympics in Paris had been Kenny's next goal, an ambitious target having given birth to her second child in July, but announcing the retirement news in an interview with the BBC, Kenny said she "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," she said. "It's been in my head 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 was I doing, what training camps was I going on — I didn't want to go ultimately and that's what it came down to. I knew the minute I was getting those feelings. Once I said to Jase [husband Jason Kenny, Britain's most decorated Olympian], 'I don't think I want to ride a bike any more', I started to feel relief."

Laura and Jason Kenny (Alex Broadway/SWpix.com)

Kenny gave birth to the couple's first child in 2017, returning to the sport's pinnacle afterwards to win madison gold alongside Katie Archibald and team pursuit silver at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

However, Kenny has also spoken candidly about suffering a miscarriage months later in late 2021 and an ectopic pregnancy shortly after. The couple, Britain's most decorated male and female Olympians respectively, welcomed their second son last year, Kenny initially hoping to compete at a fourth Olympics this summer in Paris.

In the past few months Kenny admitted "hesitant feelings" and that the desire to win a seventh Olympic medal "wasn't giving me the energy I wanted any more".

"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," she said, British Cycling's performance director Stephen Park having said earlier this month that she only had a "slim chance" of making the Paris Games.

"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 explained.

Kenny's, then Laura Trott, announced herself to the wider sporting world at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, having already won three World Championship and six European titles by the age of 20.

Laura Kenny (Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com)

Double Olympic gold as part of Britain's world record-setting team pursuit squad, followed by individual success in the omnium at the velodrome in Stratford catapulted Kenny to mainstream sporting stardom.

Alongside Joanna Rowsell and Dani King, the team pursuit trio had won at each of the previous two World Championships in the discipline and broke the world record six times in succession, culminating with the 3:14.682 clocked in the final.

"When I look back, I'm like 'wow, those two weeks did really change my life'," she said today. "I never thought I would go to a home games, let alone go on to win two gold medals."

Four years later, in Rio, the UCI now adding a fourth rider to the women's discipline to match the men's event, Kenny was again part of a gold-winning British unit, Rowsell, Archibald and Elinor Barker setting world records in the qualification and final.

Laura Kenny (Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com)

Kenny again added individual success in the omnium to her palmares, before winning the fifth of her Olympic golds in the madison alongside Archibald in Tokyo. At that, Kenny's third Games, the team pursuit outfit had set a new world record in qualifying, a time beaten by the Germans in the next heat, the Brits beaten by the same nation in the final.

A crash and disappointing sixth-place result in the omnium was the outlier in an otherwise relentlessly successful Olympic career, Kenny chosen to be the Great Britain flag bearer at the closing ceremony.

Following the Tokyo Games, Kenny was made a dame in the New Year Honours while husband Jason was knighted having retained his men's Keirin title in Japan, his seventh Olympic title and moving him one ahead of former teammate Sir Chris Hoy to become Great Britain's most successful Olympic athlete.

Away from the Olympics, Kenny also won seven world titles, 10 senior European titles and was a 12-time national champion on the track. She also competed on the road, winning the U23 national road race championship three times, winning the senior event in 2014 also.

Looking ahead, Kenny said there is "nothing set in stone" and she is "open to anything and everything" but hopes to be at the Paris Games "in some capacity".

"There's nothing set in stone but there are things I'm so interested in doing," she said. "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."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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4 comments

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Steve K | 2 months ago
1 like

Also, I shall always be grateful to her and Jason for recording a little "good luck" video to me when I was about to embark on my season of cycling to and from every Crystal Palace match for a season (a friend of mine was a producer for BBC sport and asked them to do it).

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kil0ran | 2 months ago
4 likes

Truly the greatest in all she's done to date. Her legacy in female track cycling is assured with Archibald taking her crown and a huge number of up and coming talents. I also absolutely loved the "Posh and Becks of cycling" stuff at the 2012 Olympics (who remembers the photoshoot of her and Jason on the tandem?) and then a couple of years later just out for a Sunday ride on a pair of Rourke's. The thing is they've both backed up the hype in the intervening years by Laura advocating for women's performance health research and Jason being an all round decent bloke and absolute monster of a rider. Madison and him catching the field napping for his gold were huge highlights of Tokyo for me.

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Steve K | 2 months ago
6 likes

Brilliant career and a great ambassador for the sport and for women in sport.

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Rendel Harris | 2 months ago
6 likes

Congratulations to Laura on an absolutely splendid career, definitely nothing left to prove. Seems a lovely woman too, I've almost forgiven her for making me look like I was standing still on Box Hill…

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