Female First: Hi Laura, you have inspired lots of young females to get into cycling following your success at the Olympics - but who inspired you when you were growing up?

Dame Laura Kenny credit Toyota

Dame Laura Kenny credit Toyota

My Mum and Dad! They have been a constant source of support for me throughout my career, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. They always had an amazing habit of giving me just the right amount of support when I needed it, followed by just the right amount of advice even when I didn’t think I needed it. I hope I can be as great with my two boys as they were for me and my sister. 

Female First: What’s the defining memory for you from the 2012 London Games? There must be so many, so feel free to give us a few memories.

Winning my first golds will obviously live long in the memory, but if I’m being really honest, the defining memory for me will always be the atmosphere. Given it was a Home Games we knew it was going to be special, but I honestly don’t think anything could have prepared us for how incredible the home crowds were at every event. The sense of togetherness that London 2012 brought didn’t just filter through the sports venues, it was everywhere, in the village, on the tube, at the shops, it was amazing. 

I’ll never forget the first time I was announced in the velodrome, I’d normally warm up with my headphones on, but on this occasion, I was told it might be a good idea to take them off… and I’m so glad I did – it was deafening, to hear and know there was a packed out velodrome willing you to win was just the most incredible feeling. 

Laura Kenny
Laura Kenny

Female First: What advice would you give to any young teenage girls looking to replicate your success?

People are always surprised when I say this, but my advice would be to always see success as secondary. The first and only thing for any young person starting out in a sport to remember is that you should always try and find enjoyment in everything you do, not just on the easy days, but also the hard days – if you have that overriding enjoyment and can combine it with proper hard work, the rest will follow! 

Female First: What are your predictions for the cycling team at the Paris Olympics? Who are the standout performers to look out for in the Great Britain line-up?

It’s going to be really exciting, particularly because both the male and female squads are looking the strongest they have looked for quite some time. There are quite a few British riders and teams who are favourites in their events, so it’s going to be interesting to see how we go into the Games with that expectation, but hopefully it means we’re in for a lot of success!

In terms of athletes, keep an eye out for Emma Finucane, she has had a brilliant run into the games after recently becoming world and European champion in the sprint, so there will be a lot of buzz around her, and it will be great to see how she gets on. 

Obviously, I also need to mention my old teammate Katie Archibald, who is riding in the madison, team pursuit and the omnium; she’s one of the best in the world in all three of those events, so I’ll definitely be willing her to capture some more gold! 

Female First: How does it feel knowing you are the most successful British female athlete in Olympic history? You must be incredibly proud of that achievement?

It’s obviously an achievement I’m incredibly proud of, but it’s also something I never expected! I didn’t get into riding my bike to become this really successful Olympian, and I still don’t view myself in that way. It’s always been important to me that I keep my feet on the ground and just enjoy what I do, and I always knew that if I had that mindset the success would follow, so I’m just really pleased that mindset has held me in good stead. 

Ultimately when I look at my achievements, I’m just grateful that doing something I absolutely love has enabled me to reach the pinnacle of my sport on multiple occasions, and as a result has opened doors I never expected! 

Female First: Finally, a quick word on your football team Tottenham. Did you watch the Man City game? And what did you do when Son missed that late chance to equalise?

It’s not been Spurs’ best season, but we’ve also had some bad luck with injuries, so I’m trying not to be too sad about missing out on the Champions League, and I’m also trying not to dwell too much on what could have been had Son scored!  Hopefully an exciting summer of sport with the Euros and the Olympics will have the team back feeling inspired and ready to go for the new season! 

The current Toyota campaign - Start your Impossible - showcases the power of local communities rallying behind their athletes, and Toyota’s belief that no journey is taken alone -  who has supported you on your journey and how? 

Honestly, I’m so grateful to the community of Cheshunt where I grew up –  they’ve always been so supportive of me throughout my career. Whether it’s the local media, shop owners, locals around the town centre, whenever I go back everyone is always so kind, it’s like having my own mini-London 2012 atmosphere again and I always leave feeing inspired. Knowing I had a whole town rooting for me was always a great feeling, they’ve been with me on my journey from the very beginning through to now, and I hope I continue to make them proud, particularly as I begin this new chapter of my career in retirement.

Laura Kenny is a sports ambassador for Toyota GB supporting the 'Start Your Impossible campaign'

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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