She went to bed ready to retire. She woke up, talked to herself in the toilet, then enjoyed the proudest moment of her career.
What a 24 hours of fluctuating fortunes for Dame Laura Kenny. And what a turbulent year it has been for Britain’s greatest female Olympian — from unimaginable personal tragedy to Monday’s stunning sporting success.
On Sunday, after she finished 13th in the points race, Kenny wondered what the point of all of this was. Still coming to terms with a miscarriage last November and an ectopic pregnancy a few weeks later, she admitted her heart was no longer in it.
Laura Kenny stormed to a gold medal at the women’s 10m scratch race on Monday afternoon
She told husband Jason, the now-retired cycling legend, that yesterday might be the last time she ever raced. She even thought of asking her son Albie to come and watch her for the first — and last — time.
But then Kenny remembered that being on her bike was what got her through her trauma in the first place. She transported herself back 10 years to when she was a Trott, not a mother or a dame. And then she did what she did best — ride fast and win races.
In a sporting sense, it was only a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games scratch race. But on a human level, it meant a whole lot more. Asked if this was her greatest triumph yet, the five-time Olympic champion said: ‘In many ways, yes. I’m more proud of that than many of the other Olympic medals I’ve won.
‘On Sunday night, I said to Jason, “This is going to be my last race”. I was having a serious confidence crisis. Everything about it, I didn’t enjoy.
Kenny cruised to victory in a frantic finish with Michaela Drummond (R) claiming silver
‘I can’t tell you how hard the last six months have been. It was literally the worst thing I’ve ever been through. It took everything away from me.
‘To keep picking yourself up after this year has been a nightmare. I had absolutely lost motivation.
‘I watched Adam Peaty say he had lost his spark and that was me all over. So after Sunday, when that went badly, and Jason and I haven’t had another child, it’s difficult to go out and race when your heart isn’t in it any more. I thought, “Why am I doing it?”
‘But then I had a realisation. I came in this morning in a completely different mindset. I told myself in the toilet, “You need to race as Laura Trott,” that old bike rider who didn’t think about anything else other than crossing that finish line first.’
Kenny lifts off her helmet and roars to the crowd after her impressive perofrmance on Monday
And that is exactly what she did, to a sound which reminded her of when she was indeed a Trott, winning two golds on this same Stratford track at London 2012.
The 40-lap race had to be halted midway through when Indian rider Meenakshi Meenakshi crashed and was taken off on a stretcher after being run over by Kiwi Bryon Botha. But when it resumed, Kenny paced it to perfection — passing Scot Neah Evans on the final lap to a deafening roar.
It was just the second Commonwealth gold medal of her career — eight years after her first. And it was England’s first and only one in track cycling at these Games on the final day of action in London.
What the future holds for Kenny remains to be seen. She was meant to be riding in the Europeans next week. But it is more likely Kenny will now take time out before the World Championships in October — if not longer — with the Paris Olympics still her ultimate goal.
‘I do feel right now, stood here, that I need to step back again and reset, because it took every single last bit of energy to get me on that start line,’ added Kenny. A nation was grateful she did.