Kenny, socially smart, depends on digital buzz to lead Team GB to glory in Tokyo

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Laura Kenny says social media influence means that there is no excuse why Team GB in Tokyo should not enjoy the same help they received in London and Rio.

The precise details of how the rescheduled Olympics will work and whether crowds will be permitted when the Games open on July 23 are still surrounded by confusion.

But either way, four-time Olympic champion Kenny will do as she did in 2012 and 2016, even though she’s far away, using social media and soaking up the British public’s love.

“I used social media during London and Rio,” said Kenny, who works with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB and show solidarity on their Tokyo tour.

We never had any rules for not competing in cycling as a team. I never felt like we had to have a discussion.

Social media keeps fans linked and it may be the only private page they get to see in Tokyo. None of us are the kind of character to post something that creates a diversion.

Snapping a video in the Village is quick for us and maybe it’s the only time we’re talking to riders from other nations when we’re all in national team bubbles.

Getting messages from the fans is a special feeling, it feels like these people are behind us even if they are not in the same country. I like the fact that we are sponsored by this separate little team.

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

The birth of their son Albie in 2017 brought the Kenny clan ever closer together, and during the lockout, the little one spent a great deal of time riding his own bike around their home in Cheshire.

The 28-year-old says she was never shy about putting her network of support first.

‘My family is everything,’ says Kenny.

We are now talking about support bubbles, but as long as I’ve been an athlete, they have been my support bubble. Without them, you can’t do it.

It was always really important to have them and I figured out where they were every time I went to the velodrome in 2012.

During a competition, some athletes don’t want to have anything to do with their family; they don’t want to know where they are. From day one, they were part of the adventure, so I want them to be there every day, too.

As she pursues another Olympic title in Japan, Kenny acknowledges that family support is everything.

For the 28-year-old, who will face a challenging program in Tokyo that involves three competitions – team pursuit, Madison and Omnium, the postponement of the Games seems to have been a blessing.

Kenny says an additional year of training helped her to rebound from a broken shoulder she sustained in January (and then a broken arm two weeks later), while continuing to make strides earlier in the Tokyo cycle after taking time off to give birth.

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

A lot of women athletes came up to me and asked me if I was helped and how I did it. In the female athlete population, age is a major factor because, after all, when you are younger, it’s easier to get pregnant. I always thought about it: I want a baby, and I want to keep going.

“Age doesn’t matter to me because I’ve done both.”

Laura Kenny is working with Purplebricks to inspire the country, with the same fantastic support at home as they had in London 2012, to support Team GB on their path to Tokyo. Please visit Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube at @PurplebricksUK.

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