Laura Kenny shows nervousness ahead of Commonwealth Games bronze medal

Laura Kenny only fought for bronze, but it felt like a sixth Olympic gold was at stake.

England were expecting and Kenny was tasked with leading a teenager, a 20-year-old and a Commonwealth Games debutant to the team pursuit podium.

Dame Laura is used to bearing the weight of a nation, but she is human after all.

“I’ve never felt so much pressure to win a bronze medal in my entire career,” said Kenny, who is one of over 1,100 elite athletes in UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded world-class program that allows them to play full-time work out. Access the world’s best coaches and benefit from cutting-edge technology, science and medical support.

“Just the fact that it’s such a young team and of course I’ve been lucky in my career that I’ve had some brilliant experiences and been able to get on that podium.

“And that’s her first taste of it. Honestly, going into that final could have been a gold medal ride at the Olympics, I was that nervous.”

In qualifying, Kenny, Josie Knight, Maddie Leech and Sophie Lewis were five seconds off the Games record pace set by Australia and 1.5 seconds off a gold medal final spot.

Some epic spins up front for the five-time Olympic champion delivered the goods in the bronze medal clash with Wales, although she wasn’t about to make a name for herself.

She said: “I was horrible. I think I was the weak link to be honest. I’ll take that, that’s fine. At some point you have to hand it over to the next generation.”

It was only Kenny’s second Commonwealth Games medal – she won the points race in Glasgow in 2014 but missed the Gold Coast to give birth to son Albie.

She’s been through more in the last year than any mother, but you can tell she’s still addicted to the pressure because she knows there are bigger battles to fight and win.

It was the excitement of the velodrome that kept her from retiring earlier this year after a nightmare of six months during which she suffered a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy.

Fresh-faced like Leech and Lewis have reinvigorated Kenny and refresh themselves after the rigors of the Tokyo Cycle.

She said: “It was brilliant. Being able to ride with these youngsters, they bring with them a totally different, fresh, really comfortable, comfortable environment.

“One I would say I haven’t been in for the last 18 months or two years just because of the pressure of the Olympics is huge.

“Having that freshness and happiness where every session is enjoyable was just brilliant.”

The Lee Valley Velodrome sizzled just as it did ten years ago when Kenny, then Trott, took team pursuit and omnium gold at her first Olympics.

She said: “As the tandems rolled in front of us, I took off my headphones and was like, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’

“It’s a Friday; one hardly expects it. I don’t know how Saturday and Sunday will be. But no, it’s brilliant. I just love being back here. It holds so many great memories for me.

“To be honest, I didn’t even think I would be here. If the circumstances had been different, I wouldn’t have been here. It’s great to be able to come here and play a role for these girls.”

Kenny won team pursuit bronze for England along with Josie Knight, Maddie Leech and Sophie Lewis

(PA)

These girls are clearly in awe of their teammate, always walking half a step behind her and pushing back in media interviews.

When Knight, a silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympics team pursuit alongside Kenny, was given the opportunity to speak, he paid tribute.

“She’s the strongest person I know,” she said. “Having everything done and just showing up again and again.

“A week after one of her biggest issues, Laura was in a Zoom meeting with us and pretended nothing happened. She is the ultimate team player.”

Kenny returns to the points race on Sunday and the scratch race on Monday. How do you rate your chances?

“Oh, slim to none,” she said. “I don’t know. Like I say in the Olympics, I just show up and hope for the best. So I’ll show up and hope for the best.”

National Lottery players raise more than £30m a week for good causes, including vital funds for the sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how amazing your numbers are at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved with the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/commonwealth-games/laura-kenny-cycling-bronze-2022-b2134348.html Laura Kenny shows nervousness ahead of Commonwealth Games bronze medal

Fry Electronics Team

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