Staying on track
With the golden memories of London finally starting to fade, Jason Kenny talks to Sky Sports about the long road to Rio
By Alex Williams. Last Updated: 02/04/13 1:18pm
Jason Kenny's Olympic record would suggest that he is the best track sprinter in the world by some margin, a rider who can pick and choose gold medals at major championships.
The 25-year-old has competed in two Games, winning three gold medals and losing just two race heats - both in the final of the Beijing sprint to a rampant Sir Chris Hoy.
At London 2012, Kenny was part of a victorious team sprint squad which broke the world record twice and then, having been selected ahead of Hoy, he stormed to victory in the individual event ahead of Frenchman Gregory Bauge.
But it was a different story four months prior at the world championships in Melbourne. There it was Bauge who looked in irresistible form as Kenny, lacking the pure speed of his rival, was forced to defy conventional tactics and sprint all out from the gate on his way to the silver medal.
"I'd have a good race followed by a year of averageness, basically. I found that really frustrating and it is something that I will be looking to work on for sure."
He headed into London having never won a world title on the track, his only gold medal being awarded after Bauge was stripped of the 2011 sprint crown following drug test violations.
Kenny's renaissance in London led Bauge to mischievously ask if the Brit will "relax" during the next four years before exploding again at Rio in 2016. Kenny hopes such sniping will not be possible when he gets to Brazil.
"I do want to be more consistent, definitely. My lack of consistency was something that really annoyed me in the last four-year cycle before London," he told Sky Sports.
"I'd have a good race followed by a year of averageness, basically. I found that really frustrating and it is something that I will be looking to work on for sure.
"It's something that (my coach and I) will definitely be working hard towards putting right. Obviously the Olympics is the main event for us, but now we have four years to try and make sure that I'm in the best condition possible for every world championships along the way."
Kenny was finally able to stand on the top step of a world championship podium in Minsk this year, fighting fading form to come through the repechage and pip Germany's Maximilian Levy to the line in the keirin.
"I was a good chunk off from where I was in London. That lack of general conditioning started to catch up with me just at the crucial moment," he added.
"Really we could have done with the world championships being a couple of weeks earlier but it was the same for a lot of people. We saw a lot of new names stepping up and winning world titles and it was a good opportunity for those guys."
Jason Kenny: Olympic specialist?
Following the once-in-a-lifetime experience of a successful home Olympics, some may question Kenny's motivation to show the same dedication to the sport in the run-up to Rio.
Those doubts were exacerbated when he revealed he would spend this summer participating in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge - a motor sport series - but the Bolton-born rider insists the daily grind of track cycling still appeals to him.
"You find the faster you get, the harder it is to get faster and I quite like the challenge," he said.
"It does get more difficult to try and find that little bit, it gets more and more into looking at little bits here and little bits there and piecing them all together. It's a bit like a jigsaw puzzle and I really enjoy that kind of thing.
"That's why I like the car racing, you can see how to (make) gains - if you do something slightly differently then you can go quicker. That's the side of things I really enjoy."
He added of his auto adventure: "I'm hoping it's not going to be too much of a hindrance to training really. In the past I've only ever done cycling and I've always been very focused on that so it is just a bit of a change.
"At the end of the day, it's only for this summer - that's all I've committed to. I'll just have to take it as it comes and see what happens really."
Whether on two wheels or four, Kenny's need for speed shows no sign of abating.