Jason Kenny retires from cycling, becomes GB sprint coach

Britain's most successful Olympian steps off bike after winning seven gold medals over career

Jason Kenny
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jason Kenny has retired from cycling to become British Cycling's men's podium sprint coach.

It was reported that Britain's most successful Olympian would make the move a fortnight ago, but the news was officially confirmed on Thursday.

Kenny has won seven gold medals and nine overall across four Olympic Games, the last coming in Tokyo in the Keirin last year.

He had previously suggested that he might carry on until the next Olympics, which will be held in Paris in 2024, and the 33-year old told the BBC that he was a "bit sad" not to do so.

 "A massive part of me would love to continue and try to get to Paris and I'm a little bit sad in a way to not do that," he said.

He continued: "The opportunity came up at British Cycling to be a coach and it's something I wanted to do when I stopped anyway and it might not be there in three years so I thought for the sake of three years, I don't know if I can do three more years anyway, I thought I'd take the opportunity now.

"I'm really sad. It's all I've ever known is racing and training. I'm sad on that front but excited to start this new journey.

"It's a step into the unknown. I've worked with amazing coaches and I'm trying to unlock my memories of what I remember as a rider and what I liked."

Kenny won his last gold medal with an audacious attack during the Keirin final in Tokyo, after winning silver in the team sprint, which made him Britain's most successful male Olympian. He had won gold in the team sprint and silver in the team sprint at Beijing 2008; gold in the team sprint and sprint at London 2012; and gold in the team sprint, sprint and Keirin in Rio 2016.

He has also been a three-time world champion on the track, but his main focus has been on the Olympics throughout his career. His medal haul at Tokyo saw him overtake both Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy in terms of overall medals and gold medals at the Olympics, respectively.

He is also the most successful cyclist at the Olympics from any country.

He was knighted in the New Year's Honours this year, as his wife, Laura, was made a dame. She has won six medals - five gold and one silver - which makes her Britain's most succesful female Olympic athlete.

Kenny said that the Keirin win was "special" to him. "It was an amazing race. If you could pick one to end on, that would always be. That did play a small part in it. That will be my last ever race, to finish on something so special on the last day of the Olympics."

The Mancunian said that British Cycling was at a "crossroads." The organisation has faced controversy over allegations of sexism and was found to have carried out unauthorised doping tests by WADA last year.

"I'd say it's at a crossroads," he told the BBC. "If we take the right road we can be successful, a good organisation moving forward.

"Hopefully a sustainable organisation. We've had turbulence in the last few years, restructure, new staff coming in. It's important we look after performance but do it in the right way. The next few years are really important."

Kenny will take knowledge of his time as an athlete into his coaching, explaining that it is an "unpleasant" job.

"Being an athlete is really hard," he said. "There's a misconception they're treated like gods and paid millions. For the most part, being an athlete is really unpleasant. We want to make it as positive as possible. They're happy to go through it because everyone has that dream of winning. We have to be behind them, supporting them as best we can.

"That's where British Cycling needs to be on the high-performance side. That's the key - where we position ourselves. It's important we produce as many happy champions as we can. Everyone is here because they love the sport. We want to nurture that. We don't want people walking away hating cycling which has happened in the past."

BC's performance director, Stephen Park, paid tribute to Kenny's career. 

"It goes without saying that Jason has made a magnificent contribution to our team, and I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to hold on to all of that knowledge and experience as he embarks on his career as a coach. 

"We understand the vital importance of developing great riders to become great coaches, and we look forward to working with Jason as he develops his own style to support the medal ambitions of others over the years ahead."

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