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Laura Kenny doesn't need to look far for her Olympic inspiration

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Laura Kenny doesn’t need to look far for her Olympic inspiration – her toddler Albie is the only motivation she needs.

Cathy Freeman famously spoke about dreaming of winning Olympic gold and then seeing her motivation evaporate the moment she achieved her dream.

Four golds and counting, this certainly does not apply to Kenny, already Britain’s most successful female Olympian.

And while six-time Olympic champion Allyson Felix has spoken of her new perspective since returning to athletics following the birth of her first child, Kenny’s fire only burns brighter with Tokyo in sight.

“This time round I’m probably even more motivated,” she said.

“It will be the first time Albie has been in a velodrome and I want him to be able to see that if you put the hard work in, it pays off.

“I wouldn’t be going out for three-hour rides in the chucking rain if I didn’t really want this badly.

“In London, I was only 20 and I never expected to even get to the Games, never mind win two golds. Then in Rio I wanted to prove I wasn’t a one-hit wonder – not just to the outside world but to myself as well.

“The fact I’ve done it twice before doesn’t really matter. I want to prove to people I can do it again, and I also want to prove you can do it with a child.

“Albie brings a whole different aspect to it – it’s a little bit more chaotic than it was before, but in a good way I think.

“I get back from camp and I’m thrown straight into being a mum again, and it just makes me feel so much more relaxed.

“You just forget about anything you’ve done prior to that and I’m just living in the moment with Albie because that’s all he cares about.

“I do think it makes me more relaxed and I just don’t have the time to sit there and think about what went well or what didn’t.”

Kenny has grown up before our eyes, winning two golds at London 2012 before being pictured swigging beer and laughing with Prince Harry and David Beckham alongside then new boyfriend, now husband, Jason.

Promptly dubbed the Posh and Becks of cycling, between them they’ve won ten Olympic gold medals – meaning the Kenny household is just ahead of Estonia, Slovakia and Thailand on the all-time medal table, with Belarus in their sights.

However, all the growing up is now being done by the toddler nipping at her heels.

“The Olympics is going to be our longest time away from him,” added Kenny, among the Team GB athletes being supported by Purplebricks.

“I’ve done a week because I obviously go away on training camps, but Jason’s always been at home and he has never gone a night without one of us there.

“It’s one of those things which we’re just not going to think about because I don’t want to get stressed or worried.

“A lot of people have said ‘why don’t we try him with a night away now?’, but that puts the fear of god into me. If I think he’s not settled, how on earth am I going to leave him for two and a half weeks?”

Jason Kenny needs one more gold to overtake Sir Chris Hoy as Britain’s most successful Olympian while his wife is targeting three events – the team pursuit and omnium, which she won in 2012 and 2016, and the return of cycling’s dizzying Madison.

Since returning to the track in early 2018, Kenny has picked up two silvers at world level, while she claimed her 13th European title in the team pursuit in October, alongside two further second-place finishes in the omnium and Madison events in the Netherlands.

While admitting she has been somewhat disappointed by her preparations, Kenny believes a strong showing at February’s World Championships in Berlin is all she needs.

“If I can do well it will be a good marker ahead of Tokyo,” she adds

“The World Championships isn’t my main target with the Olympics so close, it’s still really important and I want to perform there.”

Despite the ever-ticking countdown to Tokyo, Kenny insists the demands of becoming a mother have helped her cope effectively with the pressures of being an elite athlete.

And just as her teenage self yearned for the opportunity to represent her country at the highest level, she admits she simply can’t wait to get back out on the Olympic stage.

She said: “I used to get so worked up and stressed about how I could keep improving, but now I just do what I need to do and then straightaway I’m at home and back to being a mum.

“I think I’m a lot more relaxed now. I don’t have as much time to just sit there and think about things and that’s taken a lot of the nervousness away.”

Laura Kenny will appear in new TV adverts from Purplebricks, The Official Estate Agent of Team GB. Visit @PurplebricksUK on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube.

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Athletics

Former Strictly star's risk has paid off – video interview

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From showing off her jazz hands on Strictly one year to retaining her European title the next – Lauren Steadman knows how to impress on any stage.

Taking seven months off training in the middle of a Paralympic cycle is a bold decision for any athlete, but for Steadman, the risk seems to have paid off.

Despite losing nearly 5kg in weight in the run-up to making the 2018 semi-finals of Strictly Come Dancing, the three-time Paralympian claimed gold in just her second race of the year at the Tokyo Paratriathlon World Cup in August, before following up her success with silver at the World Grand Final in Lausanne and gold at the European Championships in Valencia.

Stunned at her own success, Steadman is relieved to be reaping the rewards of her Strictly gamble and is confident they will propel her to success at the Tokyo Games next year.

“This year wasn’t about winning Worlds or Europeans, it was about delivering the best I could to get to Tokyo,” she said.

“The Test event was my A race this year. I was really chuffed to bring home gold. It was a special moment as I didn’t think that it would ever happen.

“I wanted to see how the heat and humidity in Tokyo would affect me and it went really well. It gave me fire in my belly ahead of the 2020 Games.

“I went a bit too hard on my swim in the Worlds and I tired a bit too much towards the end of the race, but I was really chuffed to finish the season by taking the European title.

“Coming off the back of not training for seven months after Strictly I honestly had no expectations of myself, but I’m pleased to be right back up there.

“I actually had the best season I’ve ever had in running and I don’t know if that’s because my power transferred across from Strictly. In that sense, it definitely paid off in my sporting career.”

Winning World Cup gold is one feat, but Steadman even knows how to do it in bizarre circumstances, with the event in Tokyo having been changed to a duathlon – a format she had never raced before – high levels of E.coli were found in the water.

It wasn’t the first time Steadman has been affected by water quality issues either. The 26-year-old just missed out on gold in triathlon’s Paralympic debut in Rio because she missed the recce after fears of water pollution, something which caused her to make a wrong turn in her swim.

As a result, she decided to take action and has been working with Volvo on an awareness-raising mission for water pollution, producing a film about the challenges she has faced which premiered last weekend at the Kendal Mountain Festival in Cumbria.

“Swimming plays a major part in triathlon and Volvo has started a fantastic initiative to clean the world’s water,” she added.

“Water pollution has had a huge impact on my career and the film is based around the challenges it can cause for elite athletes and what I think we could do in the future to help.”

Lauren Steadman is an official ambassador of Volvo Car UK and its partnership with British Triathlon

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cricket

England and Sussex star Matt Prior enters final stages of arduous cycling challenge

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Former England and Sussex cricket star Matt Prior is nearing the end of his gruelling 21-day cycling challenge as he takes on the Tour de France route.

Aiming to raise £300,000 for Parkinson’s UK, Dan’s Trust and Chance to Shine, Prior is taking on all 21 stages of the prestigious route, cycling a huge total distance of 3,490km. The full route will be ridden by ten people.

On July 5, the day before the actual Tour de France, Prior , who won three consecutive Ashes titles with England, rode 194km for the first stage, starting in Brussels, before a shorter 27.6km ride through the same city for Stage Two the following day.

Stage three saw the former England cricketer tackle 215km on a hilly route, before a flat Stage Four saw him take his total up to 650.1km with a 213.5km ride from Reims to Nancy.

His fifth day of riding saw him cycle from Saint-Die-des-Vosges to Colmar in a 175.5km hilly circuit, before a shorter 160.5km ride through the mountains on day six. This was followed by a seventh consecutive day of cycling which saw Prior take on the flat 230km route between Belfort and Chalon-sur-Saone, taking his total distance for the first week up to 1,216.1km.

The second week of cycling began with a hilly 200km route on July 12, before a 170.5km circuit through hills the following day. Day ten of ‘The 21’ saw the return of the flat surfaces for Prior and his fellow riders, with the 217.5km ride between Saint-Flour and Albi.

After a day’s rest on July 15, Stage 11 proposed a flat 167km route before a tough mountainous route at Stage 12 took the total distance to 2180km. Stage 13 was an individual time-trial spanning 27.2km with some difficult clims along the way, and Stage 14 saw Prior complete the 117.5km mountainous route between Tarbes and Tourmalet Bareges.

On July 20, Matt Prior and his fellow riders tackled their last ride before another rest day, completing the mountainous 185km route between Limoux and Foix Prat d’Albis.

Returning to cycling on July 22, the flat, 177km Stage 16 stood in their way. Then on July 23, Prior entered the final five stages of the route with the hilly, 200km Stage 17 taking his total to 2,880.8km.

In the upcoming days, Prior will have to contest with four more stages, three of which are mountainous, consisting of just under 600km as he strives to reach the end destination of Paris’ Champs-Elysees.

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Cycling

Men's Tour of Sussex: All you need to know

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The Men’s Tour of Sussex, back for its seventh year, gets under way on July 4 with a race along the Seaford Seafront.

For the first time, the Seafront route will host a race at the Men’s Tour of Sussex with 80 riders from 20 different teams battling it out for this year’s yellow and blue jerseys.

The new course, making its Tour of Sussex debut as Stage One at 19:30, is a fast, flat and technical race, typically suited to heavier riders with more power. The two technical corners on this course make for an exhilarating spectacle which will provide plenty of thick, rapid action.

It could prove a decisive stage which could very realistically leave the race’s climbers in trouble and could allow the power riders to gain critical time.

Stage Two takes place at 09:00 the following morning on one of the toughest courses in the country, Beach Head. This stage is a Team Time Trial and will truly test the riders’ physical and mental endurance. Each rider will take in two laps of the stunning Eastbourne course and will have to work incredibly hard to stay with their time.

Whatever the weather, the route will be incredibly challenging as the riders speed through Birling Gap and climb up to Beachy Head for two laps of gruesome cycling.

A Team Time Trial takes immense character and a huge amount of practice, with the potential Yellow Jersey winner requiring his team to take him all the way to a fast time as the team’s time goes off the third rider to cross the line.

Stage Three takes place later on the same day, starting at 19:30, and is an individual time trial. All 80 riders will take on Ditchling Beacon, one of the most famous ascents in the UK, and will be racing on a closed road. The leader will have the honour of wearing the Yellow Jersey up the famous climb after starting from the edge of Ditchling Village and finishing at the top of the Beacon.

An interesting sub-plot to this stage is the quest to break the magic four minute barrier for the ‘Strava’ segment in what will be one of the most fascinating stages for spectators.

The following morning, at 10:00, Stage Four takes place in the regular ‘Ladies Mile’ at Ashdown Forest. After leaving the picturesque village of Nutley and getting into their rhythm through the Ashdown Forest, the riders will cycle into Groombridge for the first of numerous laps of the gruesome course.

This stage could very possibly see the lead change hands, with some difficult climbs pushing the riders to the max before a cruel climb up to Kings Standing where they will finish.

Stage Five then ends the Tour with the riders setting off at 10:00 on Sunday July 7. Largely considered the toughest stage of them all, Kidds Hill, also referred to as’The Wall’, will put the riders through a gruesome test and require the leader to dig extremely deep to maintain his lead.

It begins with a gentle ride out of Nutley but once the riders hit Kings Standing there will be no turning back. A short ride up Jibb Jacks Hill greets them first before a ride out of Hartfield sees the riders speed past the Hatch Inn and hit the dreaded ‘Wall of Sussex’.

The four day event promises to be an excellent spectacle as riders battle it out, and while it is extremely unpredictable, the entertainment is guaranteed.

For more information visit www.tourofsussex.com
Provisional Start List:

Jam Cycling RT coached by BPC

Jacob Clapp

Matthew Conner

Callum Dunford

George Galbraith

London Dynamo

James Black

Sam Llewellyn-Jones

Christopher Poole

Adam Przedrzymirski

TBW23 Stuart Hall Gett Taxi

Harry Horsman

Stanley Kennett

Peter Merritt

Joseph West

Velo Club Ventra

Oliver Beresford

Patrick Brown

Owen Lewis

Oliver Winwood-Bratchell

Bristol Collective

Jamie Atkins

Andrew Kirby

Archie Cross

Daniel Martin

Holohan Coaching Race Team

Tomos Owens

Chris Pook

Danny Smith

Toby Barnes

Islington CC

Zak Buttle

Nick Harpur

Richard McShee

Charles Salt

N+1 Lindfield Coffee works RT

Austin Head

Horatio Holloway

Llewellyn Thomas

Max Filleul

Paceline RT

Jamie Olsson

Grant Fraser

Thomas Perren

Pat Wright

Primera TeamJobs

George Skinner

Nicholas Tyrie

Julian Lockwood

Martin Rowland

Project 51

Matthew Burt

Adam Cotterell

Paul Newsome

Ian Vagg

Rapha Cycling Club

Emyr Davies

Thomas Battrum

Luke Forward

Benjamin Ryder

Shutt Ridley RT

Jered Allcock

James Beechey

Blaine Carpenter

Gareth Harvey

Southdown Bikes

Steve Calland

Richard Cartland

Simon McNamara

Cameron Preece

Team ASL

Stuart Harvey

Steven Kane

Nick Martin

Peter Morris

The 5th Floor

Matt Tucker

Alex Blomeley

David Darymple

George Garnier

trainSharp

Charles Bailey

Callum Anderson

Alexander Welburn

Michael Renardson

VC Londres

Ben McKie

Elliot Phillips

Lewis Winfield

George Sloan

Vector Cycling Race Team

Jack Brooks

Callum Slade

Paul Renshaw

David Beesley

Velusso/Project 51

Aidan Quinn

Dan Gardner

Hamish Carrick

Cameron Cragg

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