Dame Laura Kenny: 'My dreams came true at London 2012'
- Credit: Ken Mears
For Great Britain's most successful ever female Olympian, London 2012 was where her life changed.
Dame Laura Kenny won the first of her five Olympic gold medals at the Games in the omnium and team pursuit.
She told this paper that the memories of London come flooding back every time she sets foot in the Lee Valley VeloPark.
"As cliche as it sounds, my dreams came true across the week," Dame Laura said.
"It didn't matter how many people told me beforehand if you win an Olympic gold medal at your home Games it will change your life, you don't believe it."
The Harlow-born athlete is now one of Britain's most recognisable sports stars and is married to fellow multiple Olympic champion Jason Kenny.
But "within the bubble" of London 2012, she was unaware of the attention she was garnering from the public and press.
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"You're so well protected in an Olympic village that you don't even have newspapers in there, you don't know what's going on in the outside world.
"Obviously I kept my head down because I had the two events and I had to get through and so I didn't quite know the impact until Jase and I stepped out.
"As much as I was an athlete, afterwards I obviously wanted to celebrate so we went to some of the other events and I didn't quite understand until we went to those how big a deal the Olympics actually was."
Dame Laura is returning to the velodrome to participate in the Commonwealth Games, which begin today (July 28).
For her, the opportunities to cycle at the venue are a key part of London 2012's legacy.
"When we were growing up, the best track cyclists were always from up north because they had Manchester Velodrome.
"Now you're starting to see so many more people from down south because you've got the opportunity to race on an indoor track."
But she also recognises the significance of being a role model for youngsters to look up to.
"Being able to inspire a few people to get on a bike is really important to me.
"It has always been about giving back to my sport, a sport that has welcomed me now for over 12 years.
"It has been about giving back to the younger generation."
The Commonwealth Games cycling begins on Friday (July 29) and Dame Laura is competing in three events - the points race, team pursuit and scratch race.