Team GB legend Jason Kenny: Most decorated Olympic cyclist announces retirement

The seven-time gold medallist will take up a role in the Great Britain Cycling Team as preparations get underway for Paris 2024. 

By Chloe Merrell
Picture by justin setterfield

Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian track cyclist Jason Kenny has today (24 February) announced that he has taken up a role as the new Podium Men’s Sprint Coach for the Great Britain Cycling Team thus drawing his record-breaking racing career to a close.

The 33-year-old has won nine Olympic medalsseven gold and two silvers – across four Olympic Games making him, not only the holder of most Olympic gold medals and medals by any British athlete, but also, the most decorated cyclist in Olympic history.

His seventh gold and last medal in his professional career came after a stunning last hurrah in the men’s keirin at Tokyo 2020. The victory saw him surpass the previous record held by fellow cyclist Bradley Wiggins (eight medals, five gold).

Jason Kenny: Olympic cycling’s GOAT

Kenny first flashed his promise at the 2006 UCI Junior World Track Cycling Championships when, at just 18 years old, the teen from Bolton scooped up three gold medals. He then was promoted to the senior ranks.

At Beijing 2008 Kenny won his first Olympic gold in the team sprint, and came in second behind Chris Hoy – another behemoth of British cycling – in the individual sprint.

Four years later, at his home Games in London, Kenny returned to the track to reclaim his team sprint title and go one better in the individual sprint to take his Olympic gold medal tally to three.

At Rio 2016, the Briton then went above and beyond even his own standards, picking up three golds in the team sprint, individual sprint and keirin to match Hoy's six Olympic medals in a moment of Team GB cycling euphoria.

While the spotlight lingered on Kenny post-Games after he married Britain's most successful female Olympian Laura Kenny (née Trott) to become Britain’s “golden couple,” it failed to pick up that the new figurehead of British cycling had actually retired after his exploits in Brazil.

But shortly into his secret retirement Kenny found himself back on a bike again when he was unable to find a job and it wasn’t long before his passion for the sport was reignited:

“Because I wasn’t working, I ended up training. I thought I’d see what happened,” Kenny told Olympics.com in 2019. “And I felt like I had a fresh perspective on the bike. It was like days when I was first trying to get on the squad, I was improving every day. It was almost like being born again.”

The three-time world champion took that renewed vigour with him all the way to Tokyo for what would be his fourth and final Games.

As the track cycling got going an expectant nation tuned in each day to see if their cycling hero could better the Olympic medal record set by Wiggins.

After coming up short in the individual and team sprint titles, murmurs soon began that a record-breaking seventh gold was perhaps beyond Kenny’s reach.

But a stunning final keirin ride on the very last day of the Games blew such doubts out of the water. Launching a surprise attack on his sleeping competitors, the Team GB cyclist surged ahead and stayed there. The Briton cross the line 0.73 seconds ahead of Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia to take a stunning final win.

Finally, on the track at Tokyo 2020, Kenny had become Britain’s most decorated Olympian of all time.

Jason Kenny, Jamie Staff and Chris Hoy from Team GB pose with their gold medals after the men's team sprint track cycling event at Beijing 2008
Picture by Getty Images

Paris 2024: The next Olympic chapter for Jason Kenny

With Kenny’s experience and expertise locked in with immediate effect Team GB’s cycling team will now turn their attentions to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games where they will hope to continue their illustrious record of claiming a podium in every men’s sprint since Beijing 2008, a feat made part made possible, in part, by their new coach.

Though Kenny is delighted with his latest job title the Briton did admit he had expectations he might compete in France’s capital in two years’ time. He told BBC Breakfast:

“A massive part of me would love to continue and try to get to Paris and I’m a little sad in a way to not do that.

“The opportunity at British Cycling to be a coach might not be there in three years. I thought I’d take it now,” he added.

Speaking on the news of Kenny joining the fold British Cycling Performance Director Stephen Park said:

“To win an Olympic medal of any colour is a magnificent achievement, but it’s almost impossible to comprehend the level of talent, dedication and resilience needed to top the podium seven times across four Olympic Games.

“In many ways Jason’s finally race, the Tokyo keirin, was the perfect embodiment of all that has made him such a joy to watch.

“It goes without saying that Jason has made a magnificent contribution to our team, and I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to hold on to all of that knowledge and experience he embarks on his career as a coach.”

GO OLYMPIC. GET ALL THIS.

Free live sport events. Unlimited access to series. Unrivalled Olympic news & highlights.