Wedding joy as Olympic gold hero Chris Hoy ties the knot

SCOTLAND'S greatest Olympian and the patient girlfriend who stood on the sidelines while he pedalled to gold medal glory were married yesterday in the splendour of his home town cathedral.

• Sir Chris Hoy and Sarra Kemp are all smiles after the wedding ceremony at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh. Photograph: Greg Macvean

Sir Chris Hoy and lawyer Sarra Kemp tied the knot at Edinburgh's St Giles before attending a reception with their guests at the historic Signet Library.

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The bride, resplendent in an ivory coloured dress with a flowing train and veil, waved at the crowd gathered on Edinburgh's Royal Mile before entering the cathedral to meet up with the groom, the Olympic cycling champion.

Right on cue, a piper busking up the street struck up The Highland Wedding as more people were drawn towards the ancient cathedral to try to find out what all the fuss was about.

Despite enormous efforts to keep the event private, the presence of a fleet of fine vintage Jaguars, a smattering of press photographers and a television camera were enough to arouse the curiosity of the tourists wandering along the thoroughfare.

"Who's wedding is it?" asked Kelly Smart, a visitor from Banbridge, Northern Ireland. "Chris Hoy," was the reply of another passerby.

"Oh good, I like him," Smart said before settling down on a bench beside the Heart of Midlothian, ready to watch the happy couple come out of the church.

The crowds gathered as word got out about what had been a closely guarded secret. Such is the crowd-pulling magnetism of modern celebrity that the couple had insisted that not even the guests should know where the wedding would take place until the morning of the ceremony itself.

They had been instructed to gather in the centre of Edinburgh and only then was it revealed that the wedding would take place in St Giles, the historic City Church of Edinburgh otherwise known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh.

Friends and family of the happy couple, many of the men in Highland Dress, made their way to the church.

Among those at the smart society wedding was Rebecca Adlington, the freestyle swimmer from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, who won two Olympic golds in 2008.

But one guest to miss much of the ceremony was Hoy's 18-month-old Godson Hector Robinson.

The occasion was too much for the youngster, who was removed from the church by his father Alasdair, because he insisted on shouting during the ceremony.

"I'm friendly with both of them," Robinson snr said outside the Kirk. "It's a very happy day. It was going very well, but I was only inside for five minutes before I had to take the wee one out, so I can't tell you that much about what was happening and I was standing at the back.

"But I can tell you, they are a very well suited couple."

Hoy, 34, Britain's finest ever cyclist, shot to fame when he became the first British athlete in 100 years to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games to add to a fourth gained four years previously in Athens.

His new wife, who is aged 29, may not be as well known as the cyclist, but she is a successful career woman in her own right. She is a solicitor specialising in personal injury law at the Edinburgh-based firm Balfour and Manson.

The couple met two years ago at a party hosted by a mutual friend in the Grand Cru bar in Edinburgh. As his girlfriend, his new wife was by Hoy's side during his remarkable triple triumph in Beijing.

The couple got engaged on a trip to Prague last year. Hoy took a diamond ring with him on their romantic break and surprised her by popping the question. To his delight, she said yes.

After the ceremony, the doors of St Giles swung open and the happy couple emerged with huge smiles spread across their faces.

The crowd cheered and broke into applause as they stood in the sunshine. Hoy looked immaculate in a grey tartan kilt and charcoal coloured kilt jacket, an outfit that was also worn by his ushers. The colour scheme matched the elegant black dresses and charcoal tops worn by the bridesmaids.

Old school friends from Hoy's time at George Watson's College as well as student friends from his days at St Andrews University and Moray House shared the special day of the most successful Olympic cyclist of all time.

"Give her a kiss, Chris," shouted the photographers as the couple posed briefly for a picture.

The cyclist declined their request, but shouted "Thank-you" and waved at the crowd before the wedding party made its way towards the nearby Signet Library, the fine Georgian building in Parliament Square owned by the WS Society.

Hoy is well-known for his complete commitment to sport, but such was the importance of his date with destiny that he decided to miss an event named in his honour. The wedding weekend coincided with today's Chris Hoy Half Marathon in Edinburgh.