Laura Kenny became the first British woman to win a gold medal at three Olympic Games after she and Katie Archibald took the win in the first ever women’s Madison at the Games at the Izu Velodrome. Kenny is now the most successful female cyclist in Olympic history and Great Britain’s most decorated female athlete with five gold medals and six Olympic medals overall to her name.
The Madison win was her first gold medal since becoming a mother to son Albie in August 2017. “I’ve never wanted to win a medal so much in all my life,” Kenny told the BBC after the race.”I messaged Jason [Kenny, Trott’s husband and fellow GB cyclist] and said I feel like my Olympics ends today. I love the team pursuit but I felt relief when it was over because this was the one race I wanted to win – I just feel so relieved.”
“When I fell pregnant, there was a moment two months into the pregnancy where I woke up and said to Jason ‘I can’t do this, I’m not going to be able to carry on [with cycling], there’s just no way.’ And here we are.”
Many athletes who are mothers have spoken of the difficulty of leaving their children behind to travel to the Games due to COVID restrictions. Speaking of the sacrifice she has had to make for her Olympic bid, Kenny said: “It’s so hard leaving him at home. But I couldn’t do it without these girls. With Katie I feel like I’m racing with a sister – I’m so grateful to have her here and her support. I couldn’t have done it without her.”
Archibald echoed her teammate: “What’s really clicked into place is the racing relationship between us,” she said.
Kenny and Archibald were keen to credit their support network for assisting their win, “It’s just incredible, we’ve got people up in the stands as well the people that you don’t see in the background,” said Kenny. “It’s a whole group effort and here we’ve got just a few people
The pair won silver in the Madison at the European championships in 2018 and they dominated today’s race, winning the three opening sprints and a total of 10 of the 12 as well as gaining a lap for 20 points. They finished with 78 points, more than double the points of their nearest rivals, the Danish pair of Julie Leth and Amalie Dideriksen.
Kenny will race in the omnium on Sunday, a discipline where she is double Olympic champion, where she is predicted to win a record seventh medal.