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Dame Laura Kenny, Britain’s most successful female Olympian, announces retirement from cycling

Laura Kenny, Great Britain’s most successful female Olympian who won five gold medals across three Games, has announced her retirement from cycling.

The athlete had planned to attempt to qualify for Paris 2024 and one last Olympics but will now step back immediately and watch from afar.

“Thank you cycling for everything you’ve given me – including a husband and our growing family!” Dame Laura, who is married to fellow Olympic champion Jason Kenny, wrote on Instagram.

“Having people say I have inspired women and girls to get active and get on a bike means the world to me. Thanks to Team GB, British Cycling and all the partners who have supported my journey.

“A special thanks to every teammate I have had over the years and of course to my family for being the best support unit I could ever have wished for. It’s now time to move on but stay following for the next chapter.”

Laura Kenny won five gold medals across three Olympic Games (PA Archive)
Laura Kenny won five gold medals across three Olympic Games (PA Archive)

Kenny, who first competed as Laura Trott before marrying her teammate, was born six weeks premature with a collapsed lung, and it was a doctor’s advice to take up cycling to increase lung capacity which pushed her parents to get her involved with the sport.

She became one of the faces of the London Olympics with gold medals in the omnium and team pursuit, and her romance with sprint king Sir Jason added to public interest in Britain’s new golden couple.

Dame Laura defended her titles in Rio and won her fifth and final gold in the Madison in Tokyo in 2021, along with a silver in the team pursuit, and added Commonwealth gold at Birmingham 2022 in the scratch race.

But she admitted she was struggling with her mental health and felt “lost” after suffering a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy before the Commonwealths.

The Kennys after they received their Knight Bachelor and Dame Commander awards at Windsor Castle in May 2022 (PA Wire)
The Kennys after they received their Knight Bachelor and Dame Commander awards at Windsor Castle in May 2022 (PA Wire)

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Monday morning, the 31-year-old said: “I always knew deep down I would know when was the right time. I have had an absolute blast but now is the time for me to hang that bike up.”

Dame Laura and her husband – who retired in 2022 to move into coaching – last year welcomed a second son to their family, and she said spending time at home was proving more and more alluring to her.

“It’s been in my head a little while, the sacrifices of leaving the children and your family at home is really quite big and it really is a big decision to make,” she said.

“More and more, I was struggling to do that. More people asking me what races was I doing, what training camps was I going on – I didn’t want to go ultimately and that’s what it came down to.

“I knew the minute I was getting those feelings. Once I said to Jase, ‘I don’t think I want to ride a bike any more’, I started to feel relief.”