Commonwealth Games 2014: ‘I live a normal life. We walk the dogs, see his family...’ says Laura Trott about boyfriend Jason Kenny
All is well in the world of English cycling’s golden couple but Trott and Kenny go to the Commomnwealths in very different form
Sunday 20 July 2014
The thing about honesty is that the words will keep being quoted back at you. British cycling’s golden couple, Jason Kenny and Laura Trott, gave an interview in which they pointed out that, however nice the Commonwealth Games were, they wouldn’t “actually pay the bills”.
That was two months ago and now, with the opening ceremony in Glasgow a couple of days away, Kenny’s observations are repackaged and presented back to him.
“It is becoming a bigger deal as we get nearer,” he says. “But when we said the programme isn’t funded for the Commonwealth Games, that was right. It is funded for the Olympics. That’s just the truth.”
Kenny is sitting by the track at Manchester Velodrome before setting off for Scotland with the rest of the England team. The irony is not lost on him that but for Manchester’s staging of the Commonwealth Games in 2002, the boy from Bolton would probably have come nowhere near an Olympic medal. The velodrome was the first stage on which a teenage Kenny showed the ability that was to lead to gold medals at two Olympics.
“No, I wouldn’t be here without it,” he remarks as the bikes raced by on the surface of polished Siberian pine. “I am only here because of the velodrome and the velodrome was only built as part of the bid. I wouldn’t be cycling today without this building.”
If the life of an elite athlete is surreal, the life of two elite athletes living together must be even more so. “I wouldn’t go on nights out and I guess as a kid I missed out on the school proms,” says Trott. “But I wouldn’t say I don’t live a normal life. Me and Jason walk our dogs, see his family and go out for meals.
“I do enough to think my outside life isn’t totally cycling-obsessed but there are days like Sundays, which are our rest days, when we literally lie on the sofa all day.”
The pair go to Glasgow in slightly different moods. For Kenny, like most of the British men’s team, the World Championships in March were barren. Trott, at least, returned home from Colombia with a gold in the team pursuit.
“It’s more fingers crossed than anything else at the moment,” says Kenny, 26. “We’re looking to bounce back from the Worlds and find some form but I am in good place. I’ve had to gain a bit of weight and find some strength because the landscape’s changing a bit in sprint racing. A lot of big guys are winning races now and I have to step up and match that. I was fifth at the Worlds and everyone in front of me was bigger – the average was 10 kilos. Since the World Championships, I’ve gained four kilos. This is the heaviest I have been.”
It was her mother’s desire to lose weight that led Trott, 22, to join her on the track at Welwyn Garden City and begin the journey that has led her to Glasgow. Having nearly burnt down her flat in Manchester while trying to bake a potato, she is unlikely to be of much use to Kenny when it comes to bulking up.
The four-year age gap between the pair sounds like nothing much but it means Kenny is targeting gold at a third Olympics. His heroes are those, like Steve Redgrave and Chris Hoy, who have won and remained on the summit – more difficult than scaling the peak in the first place.
“When I won in Beijing, I wouldn’t say it was easy but it was easy compared to London,” he reflects. “When you go through a full four-year cycle, having won in the first place, and you get beaten, you have to dig yourself out of that hole and then get yourself back to the front, and that’s tough. There is always an 18- or 19-year-old coming through, like I was in Beijing.”
Trott’s last high-profile event was the Tour of Britain that put her in hospital in Clacton suffering from concussion after falling on her head. It is part of her make-up that she is an aggressive, often fearless rider. “There are things that do frighten me, like spiders,” she laughs. “But I had an older sister and as a kid I wanted to do everything my sister did.
“I actually did lose my confidence once. It was in 2009. I was riding really slowly around the banking in the weeks before the Nationals and I crashed. I rode too slowly, not even around the track but at the bottom of the black line, and I fell off. After that, I couldn’t physically get back on to the track.”
She needed the help of Simon Cope, now the British team’s endurance coach, to recover her confidence.
“This year, I’ve had quite a lot of crashes,” she says. “I crashed at the Europeans. That was stupid. It was my own fault because I shouldn’t have been there. I was at the back of the elimination race and there was not enough room. I dived underneath and by the time I got round to the back straight I fell off and took a Russian girl with me.
“You just get back up. Crashes are part of the sport.”
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