Tokyo — If Jason Kenny and his wife Laura were the country, the five-track cycling gold medal at the Rio Olympics would be in the top 20 of the medal table.
Currently, a golden couple of British sports, a major player in their country’s domination on the board, aims to replenish their heritage and rewrite the record book at the Tokyo Olympics.
Laura is Britain’s four most decorated female Olympic athlete with four gold medals, never lost at an Olympic event. Meanwhile, Jason needs another gold to break the UK record 6 shared with the colossal statue of the truck and former teammate Chris Hoy.
Kenny’s residence may require a larger trophy cabinet by the end of the race at Izu Velodrome. It is also possible that Jason will bring home the second most successful Olympic athlete at home.
“Many people told me about it,” Laura, who won Team Pursuit and Omnium Gold in London and Rio as Laura Kenny, told reporters during the build-up to Tokyo.
“I live with someone who is trying to beat me, but I don’t really think about it.”
She has won three gold medals by winning team pursuits and Omnium in London and Rio and winning the women’s program at a new Madison event.
If the Tokyo Olympics were held last year, 29-year-old Kenny might have been threatened with control as he was still returning from a broken shoulder blade.
Madison, a relay-type endurance race in which two riders take turns wrapping the circuit before handsling their teammates to the track, would have been particularly problematic.
Therefore, the 12-month delay was a kind of blessing.
“I wore a hat at three events (last year), but I don’t know how I was chosen for that Madison,” she said. “It was probably last June that we were able to actually make Madison changes.”
Now, in perfect health, Trot will be a favorite at each of her three events, even without the consent of the US team tracker.
For Jason, competition is more intense than ever and the dominance of the British men’s speed event is waning.
Each event he won in Rio (Team Sprint, Individual Sprint, Bicycle Race) was won by the Dutch at the 2020 World Championships in Berlin, the last reliable form of gauge.
Flying Dutchman Harrie Lavreysen will not slow down, so Kenny, who was eaten by the Dutch in Berlin with teammates Ryan Owens and Jack Carlin, needs to speed up.
“The world champion was 18 months ago, and it’s been a very long time in the life of a sportsman or team,” said 33. “We literally don’t know how competitive we are until you put it on the starting line.”
Kenny has a happy habit of peaking at the Olympics, and Britain’s unleashing the latest state-of-the-art bikes has probably allowed him to hit a high in his last game.
“The numbers were good. I think we are in a good place,” he said of the team. “We have started running-in and icing the cake.”
Despite being at the forefront of something unprecedented in British Olympic history, he says he is “relaxed” with the prospect of breaking Hui’s record.
“All the gold medals were special back in Beijing. They all have a story, and this is no exception,” he said. “I don’t think much about records. I’m just focusing on sharpening performance.”
But what if he or Laura has more gold medals to show their little son Alby?
“We want to plow our way and get each other to do well,” he said, downplaying internal rivals.