Laura Kenny called Commonwealth gold her greatest gold ever after a year that she was “lost”.
The 30-year-old lifted the roof of the London Velodrome with her Scratch Race win, a magical moment she felt stacked against five Olympic titles.
This, as she explained in extraordinary post-race interviews, came against the backdrop of a quiet, existential struggle with cycling.
Such was the uproar that her third and final race at these games could have been her last.
She said: “Honestly, I can’t even tell you how I felt last night. I just lay there with my mom and I thought, I just don’t know what to do, I don’t know if I can even get through this.
“It’s just so difficult. It’s hard enough coming to Olympia after Olympia and getting ready without all the junk of personal life.
“It’s just tricky because you’re constantly under the eye. Everyone wants to see what you’re doing, and it’s a really tricky place.
“Having to get through all that and then trying to assert yourself in front of your home crowd. In a way, I’m prouder of that than many other Olympic medals I’ve won.”
The world got behind Kenny after she miscarried in November and had an ectopic pregnancy in January.
The impact of such an affliction on her athletic life was not fully understood until today, when Kenny used her gold medal platform to tell the tale of a lazy run.
The impending departure of British Cycling long-distance coach Monica Greenwood and the injury concerns of Madison’s partner Katie Archibald made matters worse.
It was a perfect storm that Kenny likened to Adam Peaty, who has here voiced his own doubts about the future.
“I was watching Adam last night and how he was thinking about his build and he said he hasn’t really felt the spark in training and competing for the last two years and that feels a lot like me,” she said .
“My process was – I’ve been up and down, up and down for months now.
“You know, when you get so much bad news it makes you feel a little lost. I would say since everything that happened to me personally I feel lost.
“With Katie, it felt like someone had my arm ripped off – someone so important to your team that I just felt like I didn’t have anything.
“Everything I thought I was working toward was ripped away. When you’re in that mindset and you get on the bike day after day, I make sacrifices at home because obviously I’m leaving it to Albie, it’s tough, it’s really tough.
“It brought me to the start with all my strength today.”
With ten laps to go, Indian rider Meenakshi Meenakshi fell down the track and Kiwi Bryony Botha ran over her body.
It was another bloody incident to end a week dominated by high-velocity impacts.
The neutralization played into the hands of the English and helped them regroup, with Sophie Lewis and Grace Lister launching late attacks that helped lead Kenny out.
Kenny chased down Neah Evans in a final attack to win their third Commonwealth gold medal.
“It feels incredible,” she said.
“Even before the start I didn’t know if I could do it. I walked in this morning with a completely different attitude and I thought, ‘Of course you can do that.’
“I said to myself in the toilet, ‘You have to race as Laura Trott’, this old motorcyclist who couldn’t think of anything else but to cross the finish line first.
“When I changed my mindset, I just felt completely different.”
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https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/commonwealth-games/laura-kenny-gold-medal-british-cycling-b2135899.html Laura Kenny overcomes her greatest challenges and takes gold at the Commonwealth Games