Sir Jason Kenny admitted he has felt like a “bull in a china shop” as he throws himself into his new job as British Cycling’s men’s sprint coach.
Britain’s most successful ever Olympian announced his retirement last month and swapped his role from team-mate to coach, bringing down the curtain on a career in which he claimed seven Olympic titles – the last of them at the Tokyo Games last summer.
With the new Nations Cup season starting in Glasgow in less than three weeks’ time – before a busy summer that includes the Commonwealth Games before the European and World Championships – Kenny has had little time to settle in, but the 34-year-old insisted that suited him just fine.
“It’s been good fun,” he told the PA news agency. “I’ve just gone diving in. I’m a bit of a bull in a china shop. It’s a steep learning curve but I’m working with some good people, starting to find my feet now and really enjoying it…
“We’ve just come back from a training camp in Mallorca. We’ve got Glasgow coming up…it’s hectic at the start of the year but it’s better just to rip the plaster off and get stuck in.”
There was an element of sadness to Kenny’s decision to retire. He had still been planning to race on until the Paris Olympics in 2024 but, unsure of his form, he put in an application for the coaching role knowing how rarely such opportunities come up, and could not turn it down once offered the job.
But a month on, there is no looking back for Kenny, who still loves to jump on his bike during track sessions but knows now his job has changed.
“Cycling’s addictive, contagious,” he said. “When you see people having a good time on a bike it’s hard not to get stuck in yourself so yeah, I’ve done a little bit.
“Obviously I’m competitive. I’d love to get up and do an effort and see what I can do, but you’ve got to keep your head.
“The lads don’t want me messing around. They want me on point and helping them, so it’s about keeping that mindset and playing a supporting role.”
Kenny said making that change from being supported himself to offering it to others had come quite easily and said it was a change that had been coming to him anyway since he and wife Laura Kenny became parents to their son Albie in 2017.
“I think you grow out of the athlete mentality,” said Kenny, who has also appeared in a special Thunderbirds comic strip to offer top tips for staying safe on your bike.
“I certainly have since having Albie. You enjoy less and less being the centre of attention. I feel much more comfortable supporting other people than I do being the one taking. That’s been a natural progression for me.
“When you’re a dad it’s all about the little one, especially when they’re very small. Albie’s four now so he was only little at the Olympics.
“As an athlete you have to put yourself first, your body is the tool of your trade, but when you have a little one you put yourself second. It’s just part of growing up – you get married get dogs and have a little one, so you slip down the priority list.
“It hasn’t felt hard to do and I’m really happy now to be playing a supporting role.”
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