Jason Kenny admits he feels “not very optimistic” at the moment regarding the possibility of competing at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
The 33-year-old, Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian, intends to gradually build things up in the coming weeks as he looks to get to a point where he can train “properly”.
But he concedes he may be left with no choice in terms of calling time on his illustrious track cycling career, the haul of which was boosted to nine Olympic medals at the summer’s Tokyo Games by his seventh gold and second silver.
Kenny says he cannot “remember the last time I managed to train without it really hurting” and has stressed he does “not want to be crippled at the end of the day”.
He told the PA news agency: “Before the Olympics I was really struggling, I couldn’t squat or train how I wanted to, I had bad knees.
“So now it’s about sort of doing the ground work to make sure I can train properly moving forward. I’ll be building up really slowly, making sure I can do enough volume to train properly – and if I can’t, then I won’t even bother trying I don’t think, because I won’t be able to be competitive if I can’t train properly.
“So that’s my goal for the next couple of months – build up, working with coaches and physios to make sure I’m in good enough shape to properly train and give it a really good push, if I decide to carry on for Paris.
“A lot of it is down to if I can – I might not have a choice.”
Asked if he felt optimistic about Paris, Kenny said: “I’m not very optimistic if I’m perfectly honest with you, because I can’t remember the last time I managed to train without it really hurting.
“But we’ve got such a good team around us, and I’ve just sort of really committed to it this time and really thrown myself into working with the physios. I’m learning to squat all over again, and hopefully I’ll be in better shape for it – if not just for training then just for life in general anyway.
“I think it’s one of those things that when you’re an athlete, particularly a young athlete, you sort of take it for granted that you’ll just always be fine and bounce back.
“Then in the last cycle, I’d get a niggle and it wouldn’t go away. So I have to take it a little more seriously now. And I don’t want to be crippled at the end of the day. I want to be able to go and play football and stuff with our little boy.
“It’s just balancing all those things out really and whether I’ll be able to train full-time, completely pain-free, I’m not really sure yet. I’ll give it a good go, my best shot.
“I sort of give to the end of the year where I want to be able to train at a good level, so I’ve got until Christmas really before we sort of sit down again and re-evaluate, see how we’re going. It is very much all up in the air at the moment.”
Kenny, who walked away from cycling after the 2016 Rio Olympics without announcing he had retired before reversing the decision in 2017, added: “I think I learned from that, I’m a little bit more relaxed and less definite.
“You don’t have to make your decision the day after the Olympics whether you’re going to carry on for another four years, or three years in this case. For now I am still on the squad, training and working with my coach and physios.”
The track action in Tokyo also saw Kenny’s wife Laura claim the fifth Olympic gold of her career plus a silver.
The 29-year-old, who is the most successful British female athlete in Olympic history, has emphasised that “if fit and ready, my hand is going to be in the air” for the Paris Games.
She is set to have her first session back at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in the next few days, and when asked what might be the next competition she appears in, she said: “I don’t know yet, but – and I feel like I’m scared saying this because it seems like it is going to come around really fast – I maybe wouldn’t count the Commonwealth Games [in Birmingham, starting next July] as off the cards.”
The Kennys were speaking at Bloomberg’s PWR Ride event in London, at which employees, clients and members of the public are generating power, via static bikes developed by Energym, that will be stored in portable batteries that can be used as a source of green energy. The energy will be donated to London-based charity Greenhouse Sports to power their after-school clubs for young people.
Laura Kenny said: “It’s been brilliant here today. I still can’t believe this kind of technology exists. Sport has such an incredible power to benefit lives, and plays an important role for our planet, too.”