London 2012 Olympics: No sign of Chris Hoy easing off any time soon
AFTER winning the keirin on Tuesday night to become Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian ever, Sir Chris Hoy said he was looking forward to at last taking a couple of months off.
Yesterday, in his final round of media interviews before he began that break, the six-time gold medallist explained what exactly his “holiday” would consist of.
It is not the kind of thing that mere mortals might regard as a break. In fact, Hoy’s “rest” sounds more arduous than what the rest of us would regard as strenuous exercise. Far from wanting to put his feet up, he is looking forward to not doing that – one of the requirements of his sport is strict rest after training sessions, and he will be glad to avoid that enforced immobility. Indeed, it looks like he will be glad to avoid all sorts of immobility, if previous holidays have been anything to go by.
“I love doing what I do,” he said. “I enjoy going to the gym. When I went on my honeymoon I was in the gym within a couple of days. It’s not because I feel I need to, or I’m obsessed by it. It’s just because you think ‘Well, I’m going to be drinking a lot tonight, eating a lot tonight’.You enjoy the feeling of having done some exercise, and it makes you feel better, and then you can enjoy the rewards if you like.
“You have to have that balance in your life. I don’t just do training to be good on a bike: I do it because I enjoy it.”
To those who have watched Hoy over any length of time – say, from his first Olympics, in Sydney 12 years ago – the first thing that strikes them is usually how little he has changed. He is older, of course, and more decorated, with that knighthood as well as all his world, Olympic and Commonwealth titles. But otherwise he is the same: humble, self-critical, with no tendency at all to want to sit back on his laurels and think about what a great chap he is.
Many of us tend to indulge in self-congratulation at the drop of a hat, at the slightest compliment or whenever we have done anything half-decently. But for Hoy, and for British Cycling as a whole, resisting that impulse is one of the most important ingredients of their continued success. One way he does that is by insisting that good fortune has played a major role in his success.
“I feel in a way I’ve got to pinch myself and look back on my career and just think I’ve been so lucky. I feel it’s almost too much. I’ve had so much come my way, and a lot of that, or most of it, is just being fortunate in terms of the timing of my life. The timing of me leaving university just as I was able to go on to Lottery funding. If I’d left university a few years earlier with no funding in place, I’d have had to get a job. I had team-mates like that, who got on a career path and later had to decide to go full-time with cycling or stick with a job where they were earning three times as much.”
Having opted not to have that career outside of cycling, he does not want to revert to that route when he does retire, preferring to remain in the sport to which he has given so much.
“I’ve been racing bikes since I was seven, and I couldn’t imagine not being involved in cycling in some capacity. But it has to be somewhere you feel you can make a difference, not just being there as a hanger-on, turning up to eat the prawn sandwiches and drink the champagne. Not that I’m suggesting there are people that do that, but you want to be involved in some way that you can have an impact, and a clear aim and goal.”
Before he takes up that as yet undefined role, Hoy plans to go on cycling competitively for some time. He hopes to go on to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, but insists that if he does compete, it must be because he has been selected on merit, not out of any sense of gratitude for what he has done.
“I think my body will determine how long I go on for. It’s whether my body can keep on doing what it’s doing, because it does take its toll with fatigue and injuries. I think it’s difficult, because there are only so many places in the team. You would have to be selected on merit. You couldn’t be selected on reputation. We’ve got some very talented riders in the team, so you couldn’t just turn up and expect to be given a spot. I wouldn’t just turn up for the sake of it. I’d be riding to win.
“Eventually it has to stop at some point. The motivation is there, but I’ll take that couple of months off to recover and reassess everything. So I’ll wait and see, but there couldn’t be a better end to my career than to compete in my first major international event in Scotland. It would be very special.”
Whatever he does after cycling, Hoy is sure to remain committed to promoting sport in general, and in schools in particular. He has supported the Bank of Scotland’s National Schools Sport Week for three years, and has also worked with the bank’s Local Heroes programme. “To me, school sport is where it all began, with my parents supporting me and taking me to races in BMX. At school I had the opportunity to try all these different sports – it wasn’t just a school that said only football or rugby for the boys and hockey for the girls. I had the chance to try all kinds of things. I did cross-country, athletics, basketball, as well as football and rugby. We had the inspiration of Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games, and I’m very proud to have been part of the National Schools Sport Week in a very small way, and to have encouraged thousands of kids to try all sorts of different sports.”
• Bank of Scotland Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, provides support and funding to 82 of Scotland’s most talented developing athletes on their journey to London 2012 and beyond. Since 2008, the programme has supported 170 athletes. Follow future stars at facebook.com/ bankofscotlandlocalheroes.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
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Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
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