Laura Kenny gets over 'serious confidence crisis' to take England's first Commonwealth Games track gold

Five-time Olympic champion triumphed in the 10km scratch race, making her "nightmare" year a little better

Laura Kenny
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Laura Kenny came through a "serious confidence crisis" and her "nightmare" 2022 to take England's first gold medal on the track at the Commonwealth Games on Monday.

The five-time Olympic champion stormed round Scotland's Neah Evans in the final lap of the women's 10km scratch race to take gold at the Lee Valley VeloPark, despite saying she had "absolutely lost motivation" for training.

Kenny said last week that she thought about quitting the sport earlier this year after suffering a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy shortly after one another. 

Posting on social media at the time, she said that "life doesn’t always go to plan", and that it was the "hardest few months" she has ever had to go through.

"I watched Adam Peaty and completely reflect on his interview and I thought that is me all over," Kenny told the BBC. "I've lost the spark, training doesn't come that easy. Every day I'm like 'here we go again'. I've been there three Olympic cycles now. to keep picking yourself up after this whole year it has been a nightmare. I have absolutely just lost motivation."

On Sunday, Peaty, Olympic champion twice over in the 100 metre breaststroke, said that he had lost the "spark" for swimming after missing out on medals at the Commonwealth Games.

For Kenny, watching England teammate Matt Walls crash horrendously on Sunday left her doubting herself, something which affected her performance.

"Yesterday was a pretty bad taste to be honest. I just wasn't in the right frame of mind.

"You see Wallsy crash like that and it really makes you think 'what am I doing'. I have been so lucky my whole career I have had one broken shoulder and one broken arm.

"It has not been that bad. You see something like that... I was having a serious confidence crisis. I just didn't want to be on the track and whenever I feel like that, I race badly and that’s what happened yesterday, I raced badly, and I didn't get a result. And that's what happened."

However, thanks to a late-night conversation with her coach, some stern words to herself in the toilet, and support from a fan on the startline, Kenny was energised to perform to her best, at the London velodrome where she first made her name.

"Then last night I was messaging my new coach Len and I was like 'No, I'm not giving up I have one more roll of the dice please just help me. It could not have been better set up if I tried..." she said.

"Today I was so fired up. I kept saying to myself in the toilet, 'I can do this'. Some man on the start line said 'you've got this Laura' and I felt like turning round to him and saying 'yes I have'. I just felt like a completely different bike rider."

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.