SIR Chris Hoy says he was “not surprised” by the demand for tickets for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – because of the huge excitement generated by the London Olympics.
The record-breaking cyclist said the “amazing response” was partly down to momentum from the 2012 sporting extravaganza.
Britain’s most successful Olympian - back in his home city of Edinburgh to switch on the capital’s Christmas lights – said he thought many people across the UK who had missed out on the London Games had been determined to take part this time.
An estimated 26,000 people packed into George Street last night for a street carnival, at which Sir Chris was the guest of honour.
The occasion marked a return to the scene, just a few weeks after his London heroics, when he was awarded the Freedom of Edinburgh at the Assembly Rooms.
But the 37 year-old said he had “no regrets” about deciding to retire earlier this year, insisting he knew he would have had no chance of a medal in Glasgow next year.
He said he was convinced his body could not take the level of training required to compete at the highest level and that he had already “clung on” just to take part in the 2012 Olympics.
Sir Chris, an official Glasgow 2014 ambassador, also revealed he was in talks with the BBC about becoming a Games pundit.
It emerged earlier this month that more than 92 per cent of tickets that went on public sale for
Games events had been snapped up, with athletics, swimming and cycling proving the biggest draws.
Sir Chris said: “It was an amazing response, but I wasn’t really that surprised because of the amount of excitement that there has been for the Glasgow games - even before London, but especially since then.
“I think everybody, not just people in Glasgow or Scotland, but across the whole of the UK, is excited about the chance to carry on the momentum and be part of a big games.
“People that maybe would have gone to London, but thought ‘nah, I’ll not bother’, now realise that they don’t want to miss this opportunity.
“Even if they haven’t got tickets there’s the opportunity to come down and watch the action on the big screens or events like the road race cycling or the marathon.
“Just being in a city when a games is on is a special place to be. It’s only there for literally a few days and then it’s gone.”
Sir Chris, who launched the symbolic 120,000-mile journey of the Commonwealth Games baton at Buckingham Palace last month, announced his retirement at an emotional press conference at Murrayfield Stadium in April.
The decision dashed hopes that he could claim glory at the new cycling velodrome that bears his name in the east end of Glasgow, which is part of the city’s flagship new Commonwealth Games complex.
He told The Scotsman: “I’ve no regrets. The only way I would have felt any would have been if I thought I could have done it, if it had been possible to turn up in Glasgow and be at my best.
“It was pretty obvious shortly after getting back into training. I had clung on for London, and made it just and no more, by the skin of my teeth.
“It’s a tough time over four years when you’re hanging on, trying to keep your form, battling injuries, having big crashes. When you get to your mid-late thirties competing against guys that are in their early twenties in a sport that is all about physical output it is not easy.
“If I’d kept going I wouldn’t have been vying for a gold medal. I only wanted to be there to try to win a gold medal for Scotland.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to just turn up, get the tracksuit and wave to the crowd. I’d rather step aside and let someone else have the chance to experience that home support, rather than just be a shadow of my former self.
“I’ve been approached to do some broadcasting work in Glasgow next year, so hopefully I can make it work. There’s been a few discussions. I’d love love to do it.
“I’ve done a bit before at world cups and stuff. It’s actually good fun as you get to watch the racing from a really good vantage point, but you don’t get interrupted as much!”