Laura Kenny among Olympic medallists in England squad for Commonwealth Games

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Olympic medallists Dame Laura Kenny, Josie Knight, Matt Walls and Ryan Owens have been named in a 35-strong Team England cycling squad for this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

Fellow Olympians Charlie Tanfield, Ethan Hayter, Ethan Vernon, Ollie Wood and Evie Richards are also included, while there is an eye on the future with young quartet Lauren Bate, Milly Tanner, Sophie Capewell and Blaine Ridge-Davis, so impressive in recent women’s team sprinting, on the list.

Steve Bate, who took Paralympic silver in the individual pursuit, and Paralympic bronze medallist Sophie Unwin will also compete at the Games, where the track events will take place in London with the mountain biking and road events around Birmingham.

The competition will pit riders against their regular team-mates – Kenny won Olympic Madison gold alongside Katie Archibald in Tokyo but will be competing against the Scot this summer, the same for Owens who will be up against Jack Carlin after winning Olympic team sprint silver with him last year.

The Games can also allow riders to focus on different events. Knight has made the individual pursuit, a non-Olympic event rarely targeted by riders on the Great Britain programme, a major focus going into the summer.

“I think it’s just a very honest event,” said Knight, who came back from an elbow injury to surprise herself with bronze in the individual pursuit at the Nations Cup in Glasgow in April.

“You’re by yourself, you’ve got to 12 laps as fast as you can. No external factors can impact you. It’s just you and your bike, as fast as you can for three kilometres.”

Tissot UCI Track Nations Cup 2022 – Day Three – Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome
Josie Knight (right) will target the individual pursuit after taking a Nations Cup bronze in Glasgow (Steve Welsh/PA)

Knight raced alongside Kenny, Archibald, Neah Evans and Elinor Barker to take team pursuit silver last summer after being called into the Tokyo squad.

Since then she has added team pursuit bronze at last year’s World Championships before her medal in Glasgow, and she is now targeting the podium at her first Commonwealth Games.

“Glasgow was my first Nations Cup medal, Paris was my first World Championships medal and Tokyo was my first Olympic medal, so I’ve kind of done it backwards,” she said. “It’s been hard to look back and reflect on how well I’ve done.

“You don’t get a chance to stop and think, ‘This has been fantastic’. It’s only been recently with the injury I’ve been able to do that.”

For Joe Truman, still on the road to recovery after the back operation which ruined his chances of competing in Tokyo, the Commonwealth Games offers a chance to put himself back in the public eye.

The 25-year-old, who took team sprint silver in the Gold Coast four years ago, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity again. The last time was special because it was the first one and this time – hopefully being a home Games – will be even more special.

2018 Commonwealth Games – Day One
Joe Truman (left) was part of the silver medal-winning team pursuit squad at the Gold Coast Games (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Pulling on the England jersey is always pretty cool. Riding for Great Britain is obviously fun but I feel a bit more patriotic when I get the England jersey because we get split up as a squad and it’s extra-competitive…

“If I was able to put myself up there again, maybe put my name out there and show I’m back, that would be a nice way to start off these next two years.”

Hayter and Walls starred on the track in Tokyo, taking Madison silver together before Walls claimed omnium gold, but they will both race on the road in Birmingham in a team that also includes Fred Wright, Jake Stewart and Connor Swift.

Alice Barnes, Anna Henderson and Joss Lowden headline the women’s road team.

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