First day at Birmingham 2022 and I’m in… London. Obvs. Birmingham having no indoor velodrome (a sore point, and one which a small but committed group of campaigners have been trying to rectify for the best part of five years), the track cycling is taking place at the Olympic velodrome in Stratford.
What it does mean is that, 10 years after watching Laura Kenny (Trott, as she was then) take gold in the women’s team pursuit here at London 2012, I’ll be back watching her going for Commonwealth Gold today as part of an English quartet.
Kenny, who made her name at those Games, is now Britain’s most successful female Olympian of course. She is also by far the biggest name here, especially since GB team mates and fellow Olympic champs Katie Archibald (injury) and Elinor Barker (racing on the road after giving birth in the spring) are missing for Scotland and Wales respectively. Also since her husband Jason Kenny, the six-time Olympic champion, has retired and is now part of the British Cycling coaching staff.
It’s difficult to say how things will pan out today. When we spoke earlier this week Kenny said she had no idea. It’s not very often the GB squad divide up into home nations teams. Kenny said she just wanted to enjoy the occasion having had a horrendous winter during which she suffered a miscarriage followed by an ectopic pregnancy.
“It put lots of things into perspective,” she said. “I was really quite poorly and just even seeing Jason, the way he was around me, just made me realise I’d put my family under so much stress. Obviously not meaning to, but I think it made us realise that cycling is one thing, but life is another.
“It brought us back to earth with a massive thud, but it did make you think ‘why am I doing this?’
“I enjoy it, and that’s why I’m doing it, and it made me realise that more than ever.”
Kenny, who will also compete in the scratch race and points race this weekend, added: “I just feel so relaxed about the whole situation. I don’t know whether it is because I never really thought the Commonwealth Games was going to be a target, because we were planning on having another little one by now, but I feel more relaxed than ever. It’s almost bringing more joy. I’m so excited just to get out in front of a home crowd again, because you don’t get it that often, especially in London.”