Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

All I do is ride a bike but CBE is 'huge honour' says Laura Kenny

Four-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny said it was a "huge honour" to be made a CBE alongside her husband Jason during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

The 25-year-old cyclist, who is expecting her first child, told the Press Association: "I almost feel like I don't deserve it - there's service people and it's such a huge honour, but I feel like all I do is ride a bike."

She said "nothing compares" to being given the award, despite announcing her pregnancy, getting married and winning two gold Olympic medals in the last 12 months.

Mrs Kenny said she was still "doing bits and bobs - I'm doing about two hours of exercise a day" but admitted that she was enjoying having some time off from training.

"It's actually nice - me and Jason are spending a lot more time together. We're doing things we never really did, like going down to my parents' house, for example."

She said the Princess Royal, who led the investiture ceremony, asked her "what it was like to have a break, to have a bit of time off - because obviously she's from a sporting background herself so she knows what it's like.

"So that was nice for her to say and actually realise that I haven't had a break since 2010."

Mr Kenny, who was also made a CBE for his services to cycling, described the day as "mega", and said he was still considering whether to aim for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Speaking after the ceremony, he said: "I'm still training, just ticking over, just relaxing, letting the dust settle. Obviously we've got an extra family member coming at the end of the year."

He said he was "excited" but "a little bit worried" about juggling being a father with training for another Olympic Games.

"If it fits, it fits, and if it doesn't then I'll do something else."

Mrs Kenny, who was named in Great Britain's cycling squad for the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics alongside her husband on Monday, said she had received advice from fellow athletes Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Dame Sarah Storey.

She said it had "been good to see how they split their time" between training and parenting, and that she was "excited about the adventure" of becoming a mother.

"I know it's going to be a lot harder than the last two Games but it's something that I'm really looking forward to - it brings a new element to it."

The cyclist said it was " the right time" to have a baby, and that the couple had "wanted to try for a baby straight after Rio".

"I love cycling and it is my career but I never wanted it to define me, and it seems funny because everyone's like 'Oh, but you're so young, like why would you choose to do it now?' and it's like 'Because I also have a life' - I'm also living my life and it's the life I always thought that I wanted.

"I always wanted to be a young mum - so now felt like the right time."

She said "enough people" have come back to sport after having a baby, which gave her the confidence that she could do it too.

"Tokyo is the aim," she added.

The golden couple said they were planning to celebrate after the ceremony with afternoon tea at the Ritz.

Five Olympic rowers who won gold in the men's eight at Rio were also honoured at the ceremony.

Paul Bennett, 28, Scott Durant, 29, Matthew Gotrel, 28, and cox Phelan Hill, 37, were made MBEs, while crew-mate Lieutenant Pete Reed received an OBE.

Speaking after the ceremony, three-time Olympic gold medallist Lt Reed said: "It's an honour beyond anything.

"Crossing the finish line in Rio was my job, it was a relief and it was exciting, it was the happiest time of my life really with the greatest men to do it with and a very special time, but that's not the honour - this is the honour.

"The recognition from Her Majesty and from the public as well - you don't do it for that but it makes you glow warmly that someone's noticed - all we're doing is our job."

The 35-year-old, from Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, said he has his sights set firmly on Tokyo 2020, but his crew-mates had retired.

Mr Gotrel said the day was a "bit of a shock to us, especially when we're used to the environment of being in lycra everyday - but it's really nice and it's a privilege to be here".

England footballers Alexandra Scott and Karen Carney were made MBEs at the ceremony.

Ms Carney, 29, from Birmingham, said the honour is "great for women's football and to get recognised is massive, and I just hope that there's a lot more who get recognised with their successes as well".

Londoner Ms Scott, 32, said receiving the award was a "very proud moment".

She added: " I looked at my family and I started welling-up a bit, because I suppose it brings it all together - what you've done and the journey I've been on."

She said she "never thought" she would receive "such an honour", having started playing in a football cage on concrete.

"That was the dream then to be a professional footballer, and now I'm here."

Olympic sailor Hannah Mills, who won gold at Rio alongside crew partner Saskia Clark, said the ceremony was "nerve-wracking".

"I wasn't at all actually until I was stood in a line waiting watching other people thinking 'am I going to mess this up? - but everyone was very welcoming."

The 29-year-old, from Cardiff, said Princess Anne asked "if I had had any luck finding a new partner" following her crewmate's retirement.

Since Rio, Ms Mills has changed boats and said: "This year is about learning as much as we possibly can - so for me a new boat is exciting, it means I'm upping my skill level - whatever boat I end up sailing I'll be a better sailor for it.

"It's just a new challenge and I'm loving it, and I think this first year if you can still be loving your sport and enjoying the training and excited to get fit and everything again then it's a good place to be because it's a long cycle - yo u can't expect everything to happen in year one."


From Belfast Telegraph