London 2012 Olympics: Hoy’s praise for those who oiled the wheels of cycling success
CHRIS Hoy was the star of the velodrome on Tuesday night – but his mother ran him a close second. Television footage of Carol Hoy watching her son win the keirin showed just how much a parent can go through, and yesterday the six-time Olympic gold medallist explained how much the support of his mother and father, and of his wife Sarra, meant to him.
“I saw the clips this morning on breakfast news,” the Scottish cyclist said of the film of his mother. “It was hilarious. You only start to realise what your family and friends go through when they see you compete.
“It’s quite nerve wracking, and I’m sure my mum was having a tough time. The keirin is quite a dangerous event, you can have crashes, and she was always saying ‘Don’t hurt yourself, son. Just look after yourself’.
“She wants to make sure that you’re safe, and you’re not hurt. And if you win, that’s brilliant. I think it’s just because she knows how much it means to me and how much I want to win. But if I come last or first, my folks are still equally happy to see me and are proud of me. That’s one of the big things that has helped me in my career – the amazing support I’ve got from home.
“She’s fine now. I saw her last night with a glass of wine in her hand and she seems quite relaxed now.”
Hoy himself is looking forward to being “quite relaxed” for a while now, as he and Sarra take a well-earned break. Speaking at Team GB headquarters he said that meeting up with Sarra not long after winning the keirin was the most memorable moment of the previous 24 hours.
“She is the one who has really got me through it all. People think it’s fantastic, you step on the track and the end product is a gold medal and it looks as if it’s never in doubt. You look at performances and think it must be easy, but you have troughs and dips over the four years and Sarra was there for me all the way. “She never once complained, moaned or became frustrated at cycling, because that has been placed first in front of everything . I saw her at the end and was able to give here a big hug and a kiss and we said: ‘We’ve done it, we’ve got through it.’ It was a struggle, but it’s not as if we didn’t enjoy the process. However, we can now live a normal life for the next few months and doing things other than me eating, training and resting.”
While inevitably committed to a host of public appearances in the coming days, he certainly hopes that the return to normality happens more quickly than it did after the Beijing Games of 2008. “It was actually quite a stressful time after Beijing with so many things going on.
“And I think this time I’m determined to enjoy it a bit more, take it a little bit slower, pick and choose, make sure there’s a bit of time with myself and Sarra to chill out and maybe go home for a few days.
“After Beijing it was something like 82 days out of 84 I had an event on. There were only two days that I didn’t do some form of appearance or event. You get frazzled with that.
“You look back and think, ‘What an amazing time’, and it was. But if you’re going to enjoy it you have to absorb it a little bit.”
The 36-year-old’s sixth gold took him past Steve Redgrave’s British record of five Olympic golds, and he insisted that he will not try to extend his tally at the next Games in Rio de Janeiro, saying: “You won’t see me in the Olympics again. I won’t go back on that.
“I can’t imagine a scenario I’d make it so far as Rio, especially with the strength in depth of British cycling. It’s not a matter of choosing to go there as earning the right. It was hard enough to get here. I’m stopping here: I can’t top it in terms of the Olympics. I’m delighted to have ended on a high.”
He might well have said farewell to the Olympics with more medals, however, but for two changes in the Games programme by cycling’s governing body. First, they scrapped the kilo after Athens in 2004, meaning the Scot could not defend the title he won there. And second, after 2008 they ruled that countries could only be represented by one competitor per individual event.
The latter ruling meant that the British team had to choose between Jason Kenny and Hoy for the sprint, which produced one of his three golds in Beijing. They chose Kenny, a decision which he said was the right one, and was vindicated by the Englishman’s winning the gold. But Hoy still believes that it is a mistake to have just one rider per event, arguing that it barred some of the world’s best cyclists from being seen by spectators at the sport’s showcase occasion.
“By the time I watched the sprint there was no feeling of animosity or regret or anything. I knew that Jason was the best man for the job, and we knew that before we got to the Games.
“When he was picked it was disappointment, because I hadn’t done it, but in no way resentment or anything, because I knew they’d done the right thing. It wasn’t a big call to make. And I was just proud to see how well he rode. He was really phenomenal in the final in particular.
“So it is a pity, but if I was up there I think he would have beaten me anyway, so it’s not as if I’ve missed out on three gold medals. I can’t be disappointed with two gold medals. But to have one less rider per nation hasn’t achieved anything in terms of the number of competitors.
“We had three guys in the team sprint and two of them could have raced individual events too. It’s a tricky one, because the Games can’t expand exponentially. Every sport would have a justifiable reason to have this event in or that event in and more people involved.
“But then the Games would be too big. I understand the reason behind trying to cap the overall size of the Games. I think the aim was to stop one nation from dominating – which obviously hasn’t worked out for them. It’s a shame for the sport. At the time you felt aggrieved as an athlete that someone would miss out from each nation. But more than that it’s about the sport and the fans who go to a 100-metre final and there’s only Usain Bolt, there’s no Yohan Blake. Or there’s only one American in the sprints. The Olympic Games should be about the very best of the best.”
Yet, even with a reduced programme, these Games have still allowed Hoy to become the best of the best for Britain.
After signing off his Olympic career, which began with gold in the one-kilometre time trial at Athens in 2004, Hoy has called for the funding that has established Team GB’s dominance in the velodrome to remain. “Fifteen years ago the National Lottery Funding started and that was the catalyst and starting point for the team,” he said.
“Peter Keen had this vision for where cycling was going to go and we all thought he was mad initially when he had this dream to be the best team in the world. For someone like Laura [Trott, double gold medallist] she has only known the team as it is now but for the older riders like myself we remember it when it was run on a shoestring budget. That’s why we take so much pride in seeing how far it has come in a short space of time.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West