London 2012 Olympics: Best of the best as Chris Hoy makes it six golds
SIR Chris Hoy last night blazed his way into the history books to become the most successful Olympian in the history of British sport after claiming an unprecedented sixth gold medal.
The 36-year-old eclipsed the five golds won by Sir Steve Redgrave with a resounding performance at the Olympic Velodrome in London on yet another astounding evening for Team GB and its track cycling competitors.
In what was almost certainly his Olympic curtain call, the decorated Edinburgh cyclist blew away the competition at the final of the keirin to rapturous applause from the 6,000 capacity crowd, having cruised to first place in qualifying and the semi-final.
The Scot held the Union flag over his head after riding to victory in the race.
The noise from the crowd seemed likely to raise the roof of the velodrome, dubbed “The Pringle” due to its unusual shape.
Hoy’s gold was his second of the Games, after also winning the team sprint.
Among supporters cheering him on were Prince Harry and his cousins, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Peter Phillips.
His victory will bring to an end debate as to who is the most illustrious Olympian in British history. Sir Chris won a silver at Sydney, putting him on a par with fellow cyclist Bradley Wiggins with seven medals in all. However, Wiggins’s tally includes only four golds.
The gold was one of four won by Team GB yesterday and brought Britain’s total for London 2012 to a staggering 22.
That surpassed the 19 golds won four years ago at Beijing and is bettered only by Britain’s performance at the 1908 Games in London, when athletes secured 56 golds, a total unassailable in the modern era.
An emotional Hoy wiped tears from his eyes as he received his medal while the capacity velodrome sang along to the national anthem.
Hoy was joined on the track by Redgrave, who gave the Scot a hug.
“That’s me done for the Olympics,” Hoy said to Redgrave.
Hoy said Redgrave was an inspiration, adding: “To me, he will always be the greatest, no matter how many medals you win.
“To be here and have Steve congratulate me is incredible.”
When asked about his tears on the podium, Hoy said: “I could not hold it in. I think it’s when you realise how many things have not gone so well and you have doubted yourself and you take nothing for granted. In sport, nothing is assured.
“I was going to celebrate any medal.
“It’s just been the most unbelievable experience of my life.”
Hoy said that competing in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 would be a “dream ending”.
“How can you top this? This is phenomenal. If I can keep going to Glasgow that would be a dream ending for me, but when you get to my age you can’t look too far ahead, you have to focus on the here and now.”
On his keirin victory, he admitted: “I’m in shock. You try to compose yourself and try to be able to take it all in, but this surreal.
“This is what I always wanted. I wanted to win gold in front of my home crowd.
“I’ve done the team sprint, I saw Jason [Kenny], the team pursuit girls, the team pursuit boys, everyone stepping up to the plate, Laura [Trott[ today, and I just wanted to do my bit for the team as well.
“Thankfully, it worked out.”
Having picked up three golds in Beijing and his first eight years ago in Athens, last night’s triumphant defence of his men’s keirin title crowned a successful home games for Sir Chris.
Along with his previous Olympic medals, it is the latest addition to a bulging trophy cabinet – Sir Chris has also won 11 gold, eight silver and six bronze medals at World Championships, along with two gold and two bronze Commonwealth medals.
A second postbox in his home city is to be painted gold by Royal Mail in recognition of his remarkable achievements. A box in Edinburgh city centre was painted gold last Friday after Sir Chris led the sprint team to glory, but the honour will now be repeated after last night.
Speaking from the velodrome, Scotland’s sport minister, Shona Robison, said: “Sir Chris Hoy is now Scotland and Britain’s greatest ever Olympian and an icon to millions across the world. It’s absolutely incredible what he has done here tonight and throughout his career, and everyone back in Scotland is extremely proud of him.
“Scottish athletes have now won seven golds at these Olympics and Sir Chris Hoy’s triumph crowns an extremely long list of titles and world records.
“The noise in the velodrome was unbelievable – no-one representing Team GB has ever won six golds before, and we have never had a sportsman like him. What a hero and an inspiration.”
London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “Nearly yelled myself hoarse cheering on Chris Hoy. What an Olympian!”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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