British Cycling chief ‘very confident’ medal factory has talent to replace Laura Kenny if she retires

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Laura Kenny - British Cycling chief ‘very confident’ medal factory has talent to replace Laura Kenny if she retires - GETTY IMAGES

Laura Kenny – British Cycling chief ‘very confident’ medal factory has talent to replace Laura Kenny if she retires – GETTY IMAGES

Stephen Park, performance director of British Cycling, says he is “very confident” his programme could cope with the loss of five-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny should she decide to retire from track cycling, claiming other young riders would “step up and take up Kenny’s mantle”.

The Scot stressed, however, that he hoped that would not happen, adding that he believed Kenny could “keep going” and that his organisation would support the five-time Olympic champion to find “the right balance” in her life.

After winning Commonwealth scratch race gold on Monday – the only gold medal won by a Team England track rider at these Games – Kenny confessed that she had been contemplating retirement and that she had been feeling “lost” after a series of setbacks in the last eight months, including a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy. Kenny added that she might now skip this month’s European Championships to focus on her mental health.

Park conceded that was a possibility, although he added that if Kenny did do that, she might also have to skip the Track Cycling World Championships in Paris in the autumn.

“She needs to have the relevant number of [qualifying] points and at the moment it would be pretty difficult to have the points for the worlds if she didn’t go to the Euros,” he said. “[But] we will look to support her to try to get the very best out of her while we and she believe she can be competitive. And we will also look to try to support her so she can get the balance right, to be happy, to enjoy her life.

“You know, she is the most successful and decorated athlete [in the squad]. We are not looking to wring her dry.”

Park stressed, though, that no one was irreplaceable, even Britain’s most successful female Olympian. “It will be fantastic if Laura continues her run of Olympic medals,” he said. “If she decides, for all the major reasons that are in play, that’s not what she wants to do, I’m very confident there are plenty of young women who’ll step up and take up that mantle.”