Four-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny heading to Tokyo more relaxed than ever

Laura Kenny may call her work-life balance a logistical nightmare these days but the four-time Olympic champion says she is heading into next year’s Tokyo Games feeling more relaxed than ever before.

It is now two years since the 27-year-old became mum to Albie and coming up to 18 months since she returned to racing.

That period has been a steep learning curve for Laura and her husband Jason, who will be looking to add to his six Olympic titles next year, but one that has given them a fresh perspective on the challenges in front of them.

“For me, I feel a lot more relaxed about this Games coming than I think I ever have done,” Kenny told the PA news agency. “When I say that people think, ‘She doesn’t care as much’, but that’s just not true.

“It’s just that I’ve got new elements to my life that stop me worrying about it all the time. You can fall into a trap where you want it so much it’s all you ever think about and I don’t think that’s healthy.

“Yes, it’s more chaotic now, but that means I enjoy it a lot more. When we go to training camps and Albie comes with me, it gives me that chance to step away and be me.

“That was something missing before Rio.”

Kenny will be aiming to keep the Olympic team pursuit and omnium titles she won in both London and Rio next year, but also wants to earn selection for the Madison, new to the women’s Olympic programme in Tokyo.

Rio Olympic Games 2016 – Day Eight
Kenny and Elinor Barker, who will ride together at Six Day London, were part of Britain’s victorious team pursuit squad in Rio (David Davies/PA)

Getting the nod will be as much about form as it is about finding the right partnership, with Britain experimenting with different duos at a number of events.

“It’s a funny one because it’s about the connection you have with the other rider,” added Kenny, who is due to partner fellow Olympic champion Elinor Barker when she races at the Phynova Six Day London at the end of the month.

“It’s not about being the best two people. You need to have a relationship, you need to know how they react and change and we’ve been learning that over the summer.”

Six Day London will see the competition for Madison places played out on the track with Katie Archibald partnering Neah Evans and Emily Nelson riding with Manon Lloyd as the British team turn up en masse.

“When all the endurance girls do it, the standard is so high,” Kenny said. “It’s good to have a race that’s more laid back. You’re racing in the dark with lights over your bike so it takes some of the seriousness out of it.

“Though you’re still getting points for your Olympic qualification, it’s such a different environment to the intensity of a World Cup or the World Championships.”

Before London come the European Championships in Apeldoorn next week, where Kenny and Great Britain are hoping to put right much of went wrong in a disappointing display at this year’s World Championships in March.

Results in Pruszkow raised questions about whether British Cycling’s ‘medal factory’ was nearing the end of the production line, but Kenny said there were not too many concerns within the programme.

With @LauraKenny31 confirmed the full women's field is now set for Six Day London!⁣https://t.co/IBcnTirKzzpic.twitter.com/5GJh4sGTr3

— Six Day (@sixdaycycling) October 8, 2019

“Expectations come from how much success we’ve had in the past,” she said. “In Pruszkow the men’s pursuit team did the quickest time they’ve ever done but it’s just that Australia went quicker.

“That’s tricky but we’ve been there before and I’m sure we can get through it again.

“In 2015, that was the first World Championships where we didn’t win the women’s team pursuit (since before the London Games) and everybody thought, ‘What on earth?’ but we still went on to win the Olympics so I’m not worried.

“It’s not just as though, because the Worlds didn’t go to plan you throw it out.

“We’ve got targets along the way, stepping stones, and if you’ve bought into the training plan you can still feel pretty confident.”

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