Team GB’s golden couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny have hit back after German, French and Australian rivals raised suspicions about Britain’s track cycling dominance at the Rio Olympics.
Trott and Kenny starred with two and three golds respectively as Britain picked up where they left off at London 2012 by claiming six of the 10 titles available in the velodrome.
In a sport tarnished by doping scandals, German Kristina Vogel called the success “very questionable” while others said Team GB performed better than results between Games had indicated. Trott insists they just peaked at the right time.
“I think British Cycling has always been an Olympic-based programme, so we’ve always focused on the Olympics,” said the 24-year-old, already Britain’s most decorated female Olympian with four golds.
“It’s never about the World Championships beforehand – it’s always been about this – and our programmes have been very much designed around this, so I think that makes such a huge difference to other countries.”
British Cycling is incentivised to prioritise Olympic medals as that is the criteria UK Sport uses for allocating funding, and Kenny, who is set to marry Trott next month, also brushed off opponents’ cynicism.
“Success is always going to bring a bit of scepticism I suppose but we’ve got a clear conscience,” he said. “We know that we’ve just worked really hard and we’ve got a really good team who’ve back us all the way.”
Murmurings of foul play from beaten rivals are nothing new. French team director Isabelle Gautheron questioned whether Team GB had special wheels as they swept to seven track cycling golds at London 2012.
Former British Cycling performance director Sir Dave Brailsford shot down the latest barbs by telling rival teams they would be better off questioning their own preparations.
“They’re scratching their heads, thinking ‘how did they do it?’,” he said. “The period between the World Championships in March and the summer Olympics every four years, GB absolutely nail it. Other nations, they’re not performing to the same level in that period, which makes us scratch our heads to be honest. So I think before asking questions of us they may want to ask themselves why they keep getting it wrong.”