Book review: Heroes, Villains and Velodromes: Chris Hoy and Britain's Track Cycling Revolution
By Richard Moore HarperSport £15.99 *****
AS CHRIS Hoy thundered round the track to another victory in Beijing, BBC commentator Hugh Porter enthused about Richard Moore's book, Heroes, Villains & Velodromes. "It's an excellent read, I couldn't put it down," said Porter.
Beijing was Britain's best Olympics in living memory and at the heart of that were gold medals on the water and on wheels.
People with no previous interest in cycling suddenly became avid fans, dropping everything mid-morning to see gold after gold by the all-conquering British cyclists.
So how did Britain suddenly become the pre-eminent world force in track cycling? How could Chris Hoy, this unassuming lad from Edinburgh, come from nowhere at the age of 32 to become the first Briton in 100 years to win three gold medals in a single Olympics?
No one is better placed to answer these questions than Richard Moore, a former Scotland teammate of Hoy's at the 1998 Commonwealth Games ("I was there, if I'm honest, for the T-shirt," he claims) and now award-winning journalist and author who has remained close enough to British cycling's elite inner circle to know exactly how it was transformed in the space of a decade from a shoestring set-up to the most successful and professional operation on the planet.
Moore reveals how a confluence of factors: lottery funding; dynamic people in the right place at the right time; the training regime; the psychology and the "secret squirrel" technology all created an environment which allowed raw talent to reach its full potential.
Heroes, Villains & Velodromes was first published to great acclaim after Britain's resounding success (three world records; nine of the 18 gold medals available) at the world championships in Manchester in March.
But there was unfinished business. The ultimate goal was success in Beijing. This reprint is fully updated to include the "great haul of China". Once again, Moore has the inside track, sitting in a bar with Hoy a few short hours after he won his third gold of the games, and sharing a taxi back to the Olympic village, stopping to pick up a fellow athlete, a Canadian journeyman wrestler who chats away about his own short-lived Olympic campaign, blissfully unaware of Hoy's achievements.
Sometimes when a book comes out hot on the heels of a sporting achievement, you get a hastily cobbled-together piece of bandwagon-jumping with all too little depth and substance. But not here: this is the definitive account of Britain's track cycling revolution from someone who was there from the start and knows where the bodies are buried.
Like its hero, this book is the real McHoy.
WIN A COPY OF HEROES, VILLAINS & VELODROMES
SCOTLAND on Sunday has 10 copies of Richard Moore's acclaimed book, 'Heroes, Villains & Velodromes, Chris Hoy and Britain's Track Cycling Revolution' to give away.
As the first Briton for 100 years to win three gold medals in one Olympic Games, Scottish track cyclist Chris Hoy (pictured left) has rewritten the record books.
Critically acclaimed writer Richard Moore shadows Hoy through the current season – fully updated with events in Beijing – to provide an unprecedented insight into the secret world of track cycling.
This is also the story of an extraordinary year in the life of an extraordinary sportsman and his team, one which started with Hoy's best ever world championships in Mallorca and continued with his attempt on the world kilometre record in La Paz, Bolivia, before returning to training and the 2008 world championships at the world-class Manchester velodrome in the build-up to the Olympics.
By shadowing Hoy through a season with the British track cycling team, Moore has gained an unembellished insight into the mind of a world champion. He has also attained unprecedented levels of access to the key members of the all-conquering British team.
For the chance to win a copy of 'Heroes, Villains & Velodromes' simply text the code SSHOY to 81800 followed by your name, address and postcode or alternatively you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than midnight on Monday, September 22. Please mark any e-mail entries HOY COMP and include your name, address and daytime telephone number in the body of the text.
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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