Tokyo 2020 - ‘I had no intention of carrying on, but here I am’ - Jason Kenny targets more Olympic success
Team GB’s joint record Olympic gold medal winner has been selected to go to a fourth Olympics, as he leads the sprint track cycling team. Kenny admits he did not see himself competing for this long, having retired for a year after Rio 2016, but now says he has no idea what he will do after Tokyo and will not commit to staying in the sport, or quitting.
Jason Kenny retired after taking his Olympic gold medal tally to six at Rio 2016 - but returned and is now in the Tokyo 2020 squad
Team GB’s joint record Olympic gold medallist Jason Kenny says he did not see himself competing for this long, after being selected for his fourth Olympics.
The six-time champion will lead Great Britain’s track cycling sprint team at Tokyo 2020, as he looks to move to the outright lead on the all-time leaderboard of gold medals - an honour he currently shares with Sir Chris Hoy.
Kenny retired for a year after Rio 2016, but did not tell anyone, until realising he missed the sport too much and made his return. The 33-year-old will not commit to any plans after Tokyo, but hinted a lot of that will depend on how he performs in Japan. He was asked if he thinks he will have a ‘Steve Redgrave moment’ - after the rowing legend once said, “If anyone sees me going anywhere near a boat again they have my permission to shoot me.”
“I thought in Rio I had one of those moments, I had no intention of carrying on, but here I am,” he said.
“After this one, I’m very relaxed, I’ve enjoyed the last three or four years of training. I took about a year off and had a complete hard reset and came back completely refreshed.
I have no plan whatsoever beyond the last day of the Olympics and then I’ll see what I want to do and see how I feel. I might want to carry on, I might decide I don’t really want to, but then I might not have a choice - I might get pushed out of the team. I’m not really planning for anything really.
Jason Kenny wins the sprint in Olympic record at Rio 2016
Kenny could make more Olympic history in Tokyo if he performs to his very best, but if he fails to win any golds, his wife Laura Kenny could pass him if she continues her perfect Olympic record of wins - as she will compete in three events. But he insists there is no rivalry between them, and that it is barely talked about at home.
“They’re (the endurance team) certainly one of our best chances of multiple medals, we just want each other to do well and we’ll just see what happens.
“She’s obviously got a phenomenal record, a 100% record at the Olympics, so she’s obviously carrying that into these Games and we’ll see what happens.
“It’s just another race, every gold medal’s been special, right back to Beijing, they’ve all got a story. This one would be no different, we haven’t been the dominant team, we’ve had to find a bit of performance and that’s what we’ve been trying to do in the last 12 months.
“I don’t really think about records, I just focus on the task and focus on the performance.”
Jason Kenny powers to men's sprint final win
Kenny says the statistics he is seeing from training are positive giving him optimism going into the Games, but admits a lack of races due to coronavirus means he has no idea what level his rivals are at. He has the experience to cope with the occasion - but he says preparation for Tokyo is unprecedented.
“Everyone’s not raced for such a long time. No-one’s actually come together, so we have no idea what to expect from everyone, it’s different in that sense.
The World Championships went quite well for us in Berlin but that was 18 months ago, that’s such a long time in the life of a sports person or a team, so much changes. It’ll be interesting to see where everyone’s at.
“We’ve worked really hard to try and make the extra 12 months, see it as an opportunity, ultimately it’s going to benefit some people and hurt some other people so we just hope to be on the right side of that.”
The biggest change for the Kennys going into the Tokyo Olympics is the addition of son Albie, who will turn four in August. Due to coronavirus rules on overseas supporters not being able to attend the Games, he will not be able to travel to Japan.
"I’m a bit nervous, this is the first time we’ve left Albie,” he said.
“You can’t just selfishly disappear around the world without it being a bit of a logistical nightmare back home. It’ll be different for sure.
“We’re really lucky, we’ve got two full sets of grandparents, and neither of them work that much. I think we’ll be away for two weeks and split between the two, one week with one and then one week with the other.
“They’re really keen to have him and he’s got a room set up at both of them, he’ll love it. He’ll be happy, it’ll be harder for us than it will be for him because he’ll be spoiled rotten.”