Commonwealth Games: Laura Kenny bounces back to claim gold for Team England in scratch race

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Commonwealth Games: Laura Kenny bounces back to claim gold for Team England in scratch race
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Laura Kenny bounced back from the toughest year of her life to win gold in her third and final event at the Commonwealth Games.

At the Lee Valley VeloPark where she first announced herself on the world stage at London 2012, 10 years on she timed her sprint to perfection to pass Scotland’s Neah Evans, who had given her the perfect lead-out, to the win in the 10kilometre scratch race.

Kenny had considered walking away from the sport altogether after suffering both a miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy in the wake of the Tokyo Olympics.

But in her first major event since those Games she was struggling for her best form, winning bronze in the team pursuit but finishing a lowly 13th in the points race.

Prior to this race, she told herself repeatedly in the toilet “I can do this” having previously confided in husband Jason that this might be the last race of her illustrious career.

And despite not hitting her peak form at the London venue, which is hosting the track cycling for Birmingham 2022, she still had enough in the tank to win the gold.

Matt Walls’ horrific crash on Sunday had seen her contemplating not racing in either the points or scratch race, and her head was clearly not in the right place. By the time of the scratch race, she was more like her normal self.

“Sunday left a pretty bad taste,” she said. “I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. You see Matt Walls crash like that and it really makes you think ‘what am I doing?’. I have been so lucky my whole career, I have had one broken shoulder and one broken arm.

“Seeing something like that, I was having a serious confidence crisis. I just didn’t want to be on the track and, when that happens, I race badly and I don’t get a result. And that’s what happened, whereas today I was so fired up.”

Before the start, someone on the startline gave her a further confidence boost with the words of encouragement, “you’ve got this Laura”, and she transformed into what she called “a completely different bike rider”.

Commonwealth Games 2022: Best Pictures

Adam Peaty of Team England competes in the Men’s 50m Breaststroke Semi-Fina (Getty Images)
Adam Peaty of Team England competes in the Men’s 50m Breaststroke Semi-Fina (Getty Images)
Bryony Botha of New Zealand, left, tumbles over Meenakshi Meenakshi of India as they crash during the women’s 10km scratch race final during the Commonwealth Games track cycling at Lee Valley VeloPark in London (AP)
Bryony Botha of New Zealand, left, tumbles over Meenakshi Meenakshi of India as they crash during the women’s 10km scratch race final during the Commonwealth Games track cycling at Lee Valley VeloPark in London (AP)
Gold medallist England’s Laura Kenny celebrates on the podium after winning the women’s 10km scratch (REUTERS)
Gold medallist England’s Laura Kenny celebrates on the podium after winning the women’s 10km scratch (REUTERS)
Fiji’s Sevuloni Mocenacagi in action (REUTERS)
Fiji’s Sevuloni Mocenacagi in action (REUTERS)
England’s Craig Bowler during his match with Kieran Rollings against Australia’s Damien Delgado and Chris (REUTERS)
England’s Craig Bowler during his match with Kieran Rollings against Australia’s Damien Delgado and Chris (REUTERS)
Georgia Godwin of Team Australia competes during Women’s Uneven Bars Final (Getty Images)
Georgia Godwin of Team Australia competes during Women’s Uneven Bars Final (Getty Images)
England’s David Condon (R) jumps to block a shot from India’s Nilakanta Sharma during the Pool B hockey match between England and India (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s David Condon (R) jumps to block a shot from India’s Nilakanta Sharma during the Pool B hockey match between England and India (AFP via Getty Images)
Holly O’Shea of Team Gibraltar performs a snatch during Women’s 71kg - Final (Getty Images)
Holly O’Shea of Team Gibraltar performs a snatch during Women’s 71kg - Final (Getty Images)
Gold medallist Michaela Whitebooi of Team South Africa celebrates during the Judo Women - 48 kg medal ceremony (Getty Images)
Gold medallist Michaela Whitebooi of Team South Africa celebrates during the Judo Women - 48 kg medal ceremony (Getty Images)
Joelle King of New Zealand in action during her women’s quarter-final match against Lucy Turmel of England (Getty Images)
Joelle King of New Zealand in action during her women’s quarter-final match against Lucy Turmel of England (Getty Images)
Shanice Brandi Beckford-Norton #3 of Team England dribbles against Victoria Carolyn Atieno Reynolds #30 of Team Kenya during the Women’s 3x3 Basketball Quarterfinal matc (Getty Images)
Shanice Brandi Beckford-Norton #3 of Team England dribbles against Victoria Carolyn Atieno Reynolds #30 of Team Kenya during the Women’s 3x3 Basketball Quarterfinal matc (Getty Images)

In part, she was inspired by the words of Adam Peaty after the seismic shock of his defeat in the 100metre breaststroke on Sunday.

Following her gold, she said: “I watched Adam Peaty… and I thought that is me all over. I’ve lost my spark, training doesn’t come that easy. I have absolutely lost motivation.

“Then last night I was messaging my new coach nd I was like ‘no, I’m not giving up’. To cross the line here in London, I could not ask for anything more.”

In the race, Evans faded at the death to finish outside the medals in fourth with New Zealand’s Michaela Drummond winning silver and Canadian Maggie Coles-Lyster rounding off the podium.

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