Tokyo 2020 – Jessica Ennis-Hill proves it is possible to be a mom in sports – GB Olympic champion Laura Kenny
Four-time British Olympic track cycling champion Laura Kenny said Jessica Ennis-Hill has shown her that it is possible to be a successful mom in the sport, as she prepares for her first Games since the birth of her son, Albie.
Team GB’s most successful Olympian started a family after her double gold medal at Rio 2016 with her current husband and six-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny.
But in a conversation with Eurosport from British Cycling’s welcome camp at Celtic Manor, Kenny spoke of his pride in being part of a moment that inspires women inside and outside of sport.
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“Jessica Ennis-Hill has been a huge role model for me,” she said.
“Now I can just pick up the phone for her, but when I got pregnant I didn’t know her and my physiologist put me in touch with her. Before Jess got pregnant, I believed that it was not possible to come back to have children.
“The changes your body has to go through, then the changes back to where you were before you had a baby, I thought that would be such an effort and then you have to deal with it.
I thought I was going to have to try to have kids really late because I couldn’t juggle both. Having moms in sport shows all women that they can get their bodies back again, it’s great to be part of this movement.
Kenny will be competing in her third Games, but she admits that if Jason hadn’t come back from her quiet retirement after Rio 2016, she would have felt a bit lost. Laura won’t confirm whether she’ll be going to Paris in three years, saying she is only focused on the weeks ahead but says her husband’s presence is a huge comfort.
“Having Jason here is great for reassurance. When he said he was going to retire in 2016, and I had no intention of doing so, I just couldn’t imagine going to an Olympics without his presence, for so many different reasons.
“Even little things like using new equipment, we do it all the time because they want us to be the best of the best, and sometimes it’s not good and it doesn’t work for me … but I can just tell Jase, can I swap tires ?! I can’t do that with someone else.
Track cycling is expected to be one of the few Games events to have spectators, with the velodrome located nearly 100 miles from Tokyo, which is in a state of emergency linked to the coronavirus. Local authorities decide on the capacity, but Kenny says the latest information is that it will be half full.
“When I heard that there would be no fans, I was a little disappointed because I just thought it didn’t really look like the Olympics, whereas today, with 50%, I thought… it’s a little better!
I just think it’s going to be a lot different, we all have to get there safely and when we’re in our bubble there I’ll feel a lot happier. There is only theft there where there are question marks, people entering our bubble who were not there before.
The Kennys will be away from Albie longer than they have ever been, but they are enjoying their last days with him, British Cycling allowing their son to stay in a lodge at the luxurious Welsh resort with his grandparents.
Laura will be competing in three events at the Olympics for the first time, with the Madison added to the women’s program for the very first time. She admits she doesn’t know where her form is, but looks forward to competing with Katie Archibald in the two-team event.
“It’s historic, but you have to work so closely with your partner. It’s about getting your partner in the race, that’s not necessarily all you do, you always think this far and it’s so fast.
“The partnership you have is what makes it so exciting, and it’s just … bloodshed!” There are changes everywhere. “
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