Cycling’s golden couple Laura and Jason Kenny have been awarded a damehood and knighthood respectively after breaking yet more records at the Tokyo Olympics.
Jason became Britain’s most successful ever Olympian as he won his seventh gold to move clear of former team-mate Sir Chris Hoy, while Laura extended her own record as the nation’s most successful female by collecting her fifth gold and a silver medal to boot.
Laura, who became a mother in 2017 with the arrival of the couple’s son Albie, became the first British woman to clinch gold at three successive Olympic Games – and the most successful female Olympic cyclist from any nation – when she won the Madison alongside team-mate Katie Archibald.
Arise, Sir Jason and Dame Laura!
Congratulations to the 11 Great Britain Cycling Team riders and our Performance Director Stephen Park CBE, who have been recognised in the 2021 New Year Honours list.
— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) December 31, 2021
There had been a tinge of disappointment when the British squad lost their team pursuit title, finishing second to the Americans in the final, but there was gold three days later as Kenny and Archibald utterly dominated the first ever running of a women’s Madison at an Olympics.
The haul meant Laura matched Charlotte Dujardin’s total of six Olympic medals, but the 29-year-old has two more golds than Dujardin, a fact that led her to joke: “I feel like we’re just making up these records as we go along!”
“It’s not about the records,” Laura added at the time. “It’s about the race and I’m just so happy we won the bike race.”
Laura, who was Britain’s flagbearer at the closing ceremony in Tokyo, had been made a CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours after winning team pursuit and gold omnium at the Rio Olympics, four years after her double success in the same events in London led to the awarding of an OBE.
If Laura had long been among the favourites to claim gold in Tokyo, Jason’s seventh success came in dramatic and stunning fashion on the final day of the Games as he upset the odds at the spiritual home of the keirin.
The 33-year-old had won team sprint silver alongside Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens at the start of the week but admitted he was well off the pace as he was eliminated from the individual event before the quarter-finals.
Jason then needed to go through the repechages to survive the first round of the keirin but, having reached the final, he took advantage of his rivals’ hesitation to race clear and take a shock solo win.
“I didn’t really feel like one of the favourites, I wouldn’t have been betting on myself personally,” Jason said at the time. “I think in that incidence you have got to be ready to take your chances. A massive chance came along…
“Before today I had all but given up, I was counting my career in days and races as opposed to years, but maybe I have bought myself more time now.”
It was Jason’s ninth Olympic medal in total, and came 13 years after he won his first with team sprint gold at the Beijing Games in 2008.
Like Laura, Jason received an OBE in the 2013 honours after winning double gold in London, and a CBE after a triple success in Rio.