Social savvy Kenny backing digital buzz to fire Team GB to Tokyo glory

Sportsbeat
·4 min read
Four-time Olympic champion Kenny is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB and show home support on their journey to Tokyo
Four-time Olympic champion Kenny is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB and show home support on their journey to Tokyo

Laura Kenny says the power of social media means there’s no reason Team GB can’t feel the same support they got in London and Rio in Tokyo, writes Tom Harle.

Uncertainty remains over the exact details of how the postponed Olympics will work and whether crowds will be allowed when the Games open on 23 July.

But either way four-time Olympic champion Kenny will do as she did in 2012 and 2016 - embrace social media and soak up the support of the British public even when they're far away.

“I used social media throughout London and Rio,” said Kenny, who is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB and show home support on their journey to Tokyo.

“In cycling, we’ve never had any rules in place as a team not to go on it. I've never felt like we needed to have the conversation.

“Social media keeps the fans connected and in Tokyo it might be the only personal side they get. None of us are the kind of personality to post something that causes a distraction.

“It’s easy for us to snap a video in the Village and it might be the only time we get to talk to riders from other nations if we’re all in national team bubbles.

“It feels special to get messages from fans, it feels like these people are getting behind us even though they're not in the same country. I like the fact there's this separate little team that are supporting us.”

The Games have always been a family affair for Kenny, whose parents and husband Jason played a starring role in her celebrations as she won double gold on home soil and then again four years later.

The birth of her son Albie in 2017 has brought the Kenny clan closer together and the little one spent plenty of time riding his own bike around their Cheshire home during lockdown.

The 28-year-old says she’s never shied away from putting her support network front and centre.

“My family are everything,” said Kenny.

“We talk about support bubbles now, but they’ve been my support bubble for as long as I've been an athlete. You can't do it without them.

“Having them there has always been massively important and every time I walked into the velodrome in 2012, I'd find where they were.

“Some athletes don't want anything to do with their family during an event, they don't want to know where they are. They've been part of the journey from day one so I want them there on the day too.”

Kenny admits family support is everything as she eyes up a crack at another Olympic crown in Japan
Kenny admits family support is everything as she eyes up a crack at another Olympic crown in Japan

It seems the postponement of the Games was a blessing in disguise for the 28-year-old, poised to take on a demanding schedule of three events - team pursuit, Madison and Omnium - in Tokyo.

Kenny says an extra year of preparation allowed her to recover from a broken shoulder sustained in January (and then a broken arm two weeks later) whilst continuing to make gains having taken time out to give birth earlier in the Tokyo cycle.

“The postponement gave me the extra year I didn't have because I had Albie, so that was a blessing in itself, and we'll only have three years until the next one,” she said.

“I've had quite a lot of female athletes come to me and ask how I did it and how I was supported. Age is a big factor in the female athlete population, because ultimately it's easier to get pregnant when you're younger. I always thought, I want a child and I want to carry on.

“Age for me doesn't matter, because I've done both.”

Laura Kenny is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo, with the same amazing home support as London 2012. Visit @PurplebricksUK on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube.