Dame Laura Kenny announces her retirement from cycling

The 31-year-old had been expected to compete at the Paris Games this summer.

Olympic athlete Dame Laura Kenny announces her retirement from cycling PA Media

Dame Laura Kenny, Britain’s most successful female Olympic athlete, has announced her cycling retirement.

The 31-year-old, who has won five Olympic gold medals in her decorated career, had been expected to compete at the Paris Games this summer, but told the BBC it was time to stop.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Kenny said: “I always knew deep down I would know when was the right time. I have had an absolute blast but now is the time for me to hang that bike up.”

Kenny and her husband, Sir Jason Kenny – Britain’s most decorated Olympian – last year welcomed a second son to their family and she said spending time at home was proving more and more alluring to her.

“It’s been in my head a little while, the sacrifices of leaving the children and your family at home is really quite big and it really is a big decision to make,” she added.

“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, ‘I don’t think I want to ride a bike anymore’, I started to feel relief.”

Kenny won team pursuit and omnium gold at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games and madison gold at the 2020 Olympics, where she also won a silver medal in the team pursuit.

She is a seven-time world champion and 14-time European champion, won two Commonwealth Games titles and was British National Road Race champion in 2014.

“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 anymore, it just wasn’t,” she added.

“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 said the “absolute highlight” of her career was the 2012 Games in London, during which her relationship with Jason also became public.

“I never thought I would go to a home games, let alone go on to win two gold medals,” she said.

“When I look back, I’m like ‘wow, those two weeks did really change my life’.”

Kenny, made a Dame in the 2021 New Year’s Honours, hopes to be at this summer’s Paris Olympics “in some capacity” and wants to stay involved with the GB cycling team.

“There’s nothing set in stone but there are things I’m so interested in doing,” she added.

“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.”

Great Britain team performance director Stephen Park paid tribute to Kenny, saying: “Laura hangs up her wheels as not just one of the sport’s greatest riders, but as one of the greatest sporting talents our country has ever produced.”

Park added: “Just as impressive, however, is the impact which Laura has had on her fellow riders on the GB cycling team and the next generation of Olympic hopefuls.

“She has been a beacon of inspiration for so many, young and old, and I’m sure that the entire British cycling community will join me in wishing her the very best in the next chapter of her life.”

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