Laura Kenny, Britain's most successful female Olympian, retires age 31

No Paris Olympics for Dame Laura Kenny, who is retiring to focus on family life

Clock09:01, Monday 18th March 2024
Laura Kenny ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

© Getty Images

Laura Kenny ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Dame Laura Kenny has announced her retirement from cycling ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The 31-year-old won five Olympic golds across three Olympics — London, Rio and Tokyo — along with seven World Championship titles.

Kenny had been targeting a fourth Olympics, the upcoming 2024 Paris Games. However, on 18 March, she announced her retirement.

"After lots of thought and consideration I have decided I'm going to retire from professional cycling," Kenny said in an interview with the BBC.

"It has been one ride that I would not change. I've just had an absolute blast. But now is the time for me to hang that bike up.

"I am so, so happy with my career, and now I'm sitting here knowing it's the right decision. It almost feels like a relief being able to say it out loud."

Kenny is retiring so she can spend more time with her two children. Her first, Albie, was born in 2017, and her second, Monty, was born in July last year. Kenny told the BBC that training and racing was taking her away from her family.

"It's been in my head a little while, the sacrifices of leaving your children and your family at home are really quite big, and it really is a big decision to make.

"More people were asking me what races was I doing, what training camps was I going on — I didn't want to go, ultimately.

"I knew the minute I started getting those feelings, it started to tick in my head, like, 'Is this the right thing? Why are you still doing this if this is how you feel?'

"Once I said to Jase [Jason Kenny, her partner and retired Olympian], 'I don't think I want to ride a bike any more', I started to feel relief then, to be honest."

Her attendance at Paris had been in doubt for some time. Earlier in March, British Cycling performance director Stephen Park told the BBC that there was only a "slim chance" that Kenny would be on the Paris squad.

At that time, Kenny was yet to return to team training following the birth of her second child. She had only one chance left to collect the UCI points she needed to compete in Paris, at the Track Nations Cup in Canada.

Park nodded to Kenny's waning motivation, saying she needs to "put her hand up to be selected for events". Additionally, Park highlighted that amid a track squad stocked full of young talent, Kenny might not make the cut.

Park said: "She's got to be competitive in a team that's more competitive than it's ever been."

With young riders like Emma Finucane and Katie Archibald keen to make their mark on the GB team, Kenny would have had to shine to make it onto the Olympic squad.

What's next?

Although Kenny won't be racing in Paris, she said she will be there "in some capacity". That might well mean a role behind the scenes at the GB cycling team.

Whilst speaking to the BBC earlier in March, Park mentioned Kenny will likely have "an ongoing involvement" with the GB cycling team "for years to come".

Kenny's husband, 35-year-old ex-Olympian Jason Kenny, is already a coach for British Cycling.

Now, upon her retirement, Kenny says she is, "open to doing anything and everything".

"Something to help the younger generation, whether that could be some kind of academy," she added.

"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."

A record-breaking career

Kenny is the most decorated British female Olympian in history, with five gold medals across three Olympics.

Her first two came at the London 2012 Olympics, where she won the team pursuit and the omnium. The London Olympics was a life-changing moment for Kenny, who said:

"I never thought I would go to a home Games, let alone go on to win two gold medals.

"When I look back, I'm like 'wow, those two weeks did really change my life.'"

At the Rio 2016 Olympics, she won the same two events, the team pursuit and the omnium, at which point she became the first British Olympian to take four gold medals.

In 2021, at the Tokyo Olympics, she took a fifth gold alongside teammate Katie Archibald, this time in the Madison, a classic track racing event but a new addition to the Olympic schedule. Kenny is the only British female athlete to win gold at three separate Olympics.

Besides the Olympics, Kenny has won seven World Championship titles, 14 European Championship titles and two Commonwealth Games gold medals. She was made a Dame in the 2021 New Year's Honours.

For more of the latest racing updates, visit the racing news page.

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