London 2012 Olympics: Chris Hoy ‘very proud to be part of British team’
SIR Chris Hoy has declared he is “proud” to be part of a British team alongside athletes from England and other parts of the UK, in his first comment on the possibility of Scottish independence.
Speaking yesterday after he became Britain’s most successful Olympic competitor of all time, the Edinburgh-born cyclist said he wanted to continue competing as both a British and Scottish athlete.
His comments came during an interview on Channel 4 News last night when it was put to him that this could be the last Olympics when a Team GB including Scotland takes part.
The Scottish Government’s planned referendum on independence will be held in 2014, two years before the next Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The SNP has said if Scotland decides to back independence the new country would compete as “Team Scotland”, with England, Wales and Northern Ireland making up a team of their own.
Asked whether he was a British Olympian or a Scottish Olympian, Sir Chris said: “I’m British. I’m Scottish and I’m British, I think you can be both. They’re not mutually exclusive, but it’s frustrating because as an athlete all you want to do is race and be the best you can, and not get dragged into politics.”
He added: “All I can say is that I’m very proud to be part of this team, to be part of the British team, to be alongside English and Welsh, and guys from the Isle of Man and everybody; it’s been great and I’m proud to be part of it.”
Sir Chris’s comments were welcomed by pro-Union figures last night who believe the British Olympic success at the Games has given a major boost to the campaign against independence.
However, the SNP – which has supported Team GB athletes – have also said they support Team GB athletes across the country.
After independence, however, the party envisages changing the way Scottish athletes compete.
SNP MP Pete Wishart said earlier this year: “As an independent nation we will be represented by a Team Scotland in any future Olympics.”
A Scottish Government spokesman added last night: “Under all constitutional circumstances, Sportscotland will ensure that high-performance athletes continue get the best possible training that is right for the individual, their circumstances and their sport.
“There is an excellent provision of expertise at the Sportscotland Institute of Sport, while we continue to increase the number of world-class facilities, such as the Commonwealth Arena, the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, the refurbished Commonwealth Pool and the Tollcross Aquatics Centre.”
Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman David McLetchie said: “Sir Chris Hoy has hit the nail on the head. We are Scottish and British, and proud to be both. It is the SNP that is forcing people to make this wholly unnecessary choice.”
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