Great Britain’s Jason Kenny is ready to fly the flag for Team GB in the men’s Olympic individual sprint competition and expects the opposition to be ‘better than you’ve ever seen them’.
The 24-year-old - who won silver in the event in Beijing and will also ride in the team sprint with Sir Chris Hoy and Philip Hindes - was speaking at Newport where Great Britain’s track cyclists are in the final stages of training ahead of the London Games.
With Hoy and Hindes, Kenny will be hoping to defend the team sprint gold from his success in Beijing aged just 20 when riding with Hoy and Jamie Staff. The Bolton-based believes he is well-placed to add another Olympic medal to his collection on 5 August when the men’s sprint concludes, having been chosen over Hoy who will ride the keirin.
“Training’s been going well for myself but to be honest training has been going well for everyone in the team so it’s just going through the motions and making sure we’re in the best place possible,” Kenny said.
Current sprint world champion Gregory Bauge, whose relegation in the 2011 track world championships gave Kenny the title, is expected to be the Bolton riders biggest obstacle in the competition. The Frenchman overcame Kenny in this year’s final at the worlds, but not before Kenny sprung a tactical surprise by attacking from the off in the second ride, a move he wouldn’t rule out in Olympic Velodrome.
“I’d consider doing anything that would help me win within the rules, it’s an option but he’s not someone who’s going to be easy to fool twice,” Kenny commented.
“So we’ll have to see what happens and what his form is on the day, there’s a lot of other guys there as well - the Germans and the Aussies we expect to be very strong so there is no saying he will be the main threat.
“You don’t know [who could perform], in the past there have been Russian European champions, there are a few others with the potential to step up. When you look at the last Olympics I got second and was nowhere before, I was fifth in the worlds, you’ve always got the potential for a rider to step up.
“It’s at a different time of year - it’s slightly different to the usual world cup, world championships layout. You expect everyone to be turning up better than you’ve ever seen them.”
In Melbourne, Great Britain had recorded a time of 43.533 before being relegated for the handover between Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny at the end of the opening lap. Since then Kenny is adamant the team has made significant improvements.
“The team sprint is potentially the one we focus because it’s purely time so we concentrate on getting faster, there’s no influence from any other rider or teams so I think that’s the one that takes up most of our time,” Kenny revealed.
“We’ve moved on since then. Australia was quite a decent step for us, we were a couple of tenths off the best team which is the closest we’ve been for a good while and since then we’ve been chipping away in all areas. We’ve been making sure we get it right technically ten times out of ten and hopefully we’ll be even more competitive by the Olympics.”
Before then Team GB’s track cyclists will continue to train at the Newport Velodrome as they did before the Beijing Olympics, although for Kenny a second Games, occurring in his home nation, is certainly a change from his debut.
“It does feel different but it’s hard to say in what way as such, it’s a different experience,” admitted Kenny.
“Were in the same place and on the same track because we feel this is the best place to prepare ourselves particularly with London only being a couple of hours away but this is only my second Olympic cycle. I‘ve been talking to the guys who have done three or four and every cycle is different, it definitely feels different for me from Beijing.”