'Everyone thinks I'm mad' – Laura Kenny targeting Paris 2024 Olympics return

Decorated British track cyclist hoping to compete again after birth of second child

Clock12:00, Tuesday 28th November 2023

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Laura Kenny, then Trott, took two gold medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016

Britain’s most successful female Olympian Laura Kenny is hoping to compete on the track at the Paris Olympics in 2024, despite hardly racing for much of this Olympic cycle.

Kenny has not raced since the Commonwealth Games in 2022, after suffering a miscarriage in 2021, going through surgery following an ectopic pregnancy in 2022, and then giving birth to her second child in July of this year.

Despite two years of personal events understandably sidelining her from competition, the 31-year-old has confirmed her hopes to race in Paris in 2024 in a recent episode of Team GB’s The Journey docuseries.

"I obviously want to compete in the next Olympics," Kenny said. "I know everyone thinks I’m absolutely mad in saying that, but if I don’t try, I’ll never know.

"I would hate to be sat here thinking ‘well I never even gave it a go, to see whether I could make it possible’.”

Kenny has won five Olympic gold medals so far, most recently winning the Madison with Katie Archibald at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, making her Britain’s most successful female Olympian.

Read more: Katie Archibald reflects on previous Paris disappointments ahead of 2024 Olympics

Her success in Tokyo and during the preceding cycle came after the birth of her first child, Albie, in 2017, so returning to the top after pregnancy and birth is something Kenny has done before, but she concedes that her second attempt will be different.

“The two different comebacks between Albie and Monty have been so different,” she said. “With Albie, I came back feeling like I had a point to prove - that you could be a mum and you could be an Olympic champion all at the same time.

"I think this time, I’ve come back for me. I’ve come back very much because I love riding my bike, and I cannot imagine it not being part of my life.”

The combination of returning from giving birth and the fact she raced so little before falling pregnant has made this return much harder.

The documentary episode depicts the beginning of her return to training earlier this year, which she likens more to “rehab” and “recovery” than just returning after a break, and both her physiotherapist and her coach weighed in on how difficult it will be to return to the top level by next August.

“Laura’s right at the start of her journey to Paris. Everybody else on the journey is not right at the start, so Laura’s got a mountain to climb,” her coach Len Parker Simpson said.

“The level that Laura’s trying to come back to is streets ahead of where it was, even just a few years ago.”

Read more: Cycling through pregnancy: How Joss Lowden kept riding into the ninth month

To make the team selection for Paris, Kenny will be trying to make an endurance squad of a maximum of five riders, which will likely also include Katie Archibald, Neah Evans and Elinor Barker.

Though proving a point may no longer be her main concern, Kenny still pointed towards the desire to combine both parenthood and being an elite athlete as one of her motivations to not stop racing yet.

“I hope both children see their mum as someone who was determined to make things work,” she said.

“They will never have the burden of thinking ‘mum had me and then ended her career’, because I didn’t. I carried on, I made it work. I hope they look back and they can see that, and they can see that from the day they were born, they were part of the journey."

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