Tokyo 2020 - ‘Zero pressure’ for Team GB record-breaking track cyclist Jason Kenny at fourth Olympics
Britain’s joint most successful Olympian will be looking to add to his haul of six gold medals and one silver when he takes part in his fourth Games. Kenny silently retired after Rio 2016 but returned to the sport - and he has told Eurosport he has made no decision about whether he plans to do the same when he returns home from Japan.
Jason Kenny will be looking to build on his haul of six Olympic gold medals and one silver
Team GB’s record-breaking track cyclist Jason Kenny says he feels “zero pressure” heading into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as he attempts to add to a medal cabinet which holds six golds and one silver.
Great Britain’s joint most successful Olympian usually comes across as one of the most laid-back members of the delegation at a Games, but as he prepares for his fourth, Kenny has told Eurosport he is there to enjoy the experience. That is despite the fact that one of the people chasing his record is his wife, Laura.
Kenny silently retired after Rio 2016, when he returned home with triple gold, but returned to the sport after realising how much he missed it. This time, the 33-year-old sprinter is making no commitments on his future, with Paris just three years away.
“We’ll see how the Games go but more than that really it’s how I go personally in the next three years and how the team goes,” he said.
“I might get pushed out of the team, we’ve got a very strong academy, we’ve got a lot of good riders coming through. I’m in the team now but there are no guarantees I’ll be among the best team sprinters in three years time.
I’ve got no issues ego wise that I’m not going to be the best in the world my whole life! I’ve had a really good run and I’m just enjoying it, there’s zero pressure and I’m determined to relax and enjoy it and enjoy racing. It’s good fun, it’s a great lifestyle.
“After Rio I decided I was just going to walk away but this time I won’t be quite as adamant. Doing that before, it was really good for me personally because I completely switched off.
“It was a gap year really, I didn’t think about cycling at all and when I came back I was completely refreshed. I felt like a junior again, trying to get back in the team.
“I don’t think I can do that again, you can’t just take years off willy-nilly, but I’m very relaxed about the future. I’m enjoying it, I’m in a very fortunate position - I’ve really enjoyed my career and it’s been fairly successful so there’s no pressure."
Jason Kenny wins the sprint in Olympic record at Rio 2016
Kenny was speaking to Eurosport from the track cycling team’s holding camp at the luxury Celtic Manor in Wales, where he is spending time with Laura and his son Albie before flying out to Tokyo.
He will be one of the elder statesmen in Tokyo, and it has been suggested by Chris Hoy, who has an identical Olympic medal to him, that his experience may give him the edge over some of his rivals.
“Experience is good obviously, we’ve got a lot of it throughout the staff and riders and it’s so well established, we follow quite a strong script and process so we can go through that and it snowballs,” said Kenny.
“If it goes right, we should deliver ourselves in really good shape on the start line. The team’s really good, we’re a really strong bunch and really professional.
I don’t feel any pressure to work in a certain way as a senior member or anything, the team is very professional and everyone does their job. There’s no egos or bosses, everyone’s just head down, flat out.
Aside from the obvious challenges posed by coronavirus, Kenny says there is one other issue that is going to be hard to acclimatise to, but thinks the team will rise above any difficulties.
“Tokyo will be a challenge - even the time change, it’s one of the hardest places to travel to in terms of the jet lag. Add to that the testing protocols we have to jump through, there will be a lot of challenges but the team atmosphere is very relaxed and we’ve got a great team to support us.
“That’ll keep the stress levels nice and low and we can just concentrate on our performance.”