Published: 18 April 2013
Feature: British Cycling
News: Sir Chris Hoy retires from competitive cycling
Six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy has today announced his retirement from competitive cycling after a 30-year career in which he became the most successful Olympian that Britain has ever seen.
Hoy, born in Edinburgh, began his cycling career on the BMX track at the age of seven, and by the time he was fourteen he was the Scottish national champion and was ranked in the top ten in the world - an early sign of things to come.
Hoy began to focus on track sprint cycling in 1994 when he joined the City of Edinburgh Racing Club. He was accepted onto the Great Britain Cycling Team in 1996.
His first medal on the World Championship stage was in 1999 when he, along with Craig MacLean and Jason Queally, won silver in the team sprint in Berlin.
His first gold medals came in the 2002 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Copenhagen, where he won the kilometre and the team sprint with Jamie Staff and Craig MacLean. This started the ball rolling and Chris won a medal at every World Championships for the next ten years, apart from 2009 when he was injured, totalling an impressive 11 world titles to his name.
The Commonwealth Games in Manchester meant 2002 was a landmark year for Chris. He won the kilo, as well as the bronze medal in the team sprint with Craig MacLean and Ross Edgar in Manchester. The same team sprint line-up went on to win gold for Scotland in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and Chris backed this up with a bronze in the kilo.
Video: Hoy on British Cycling
Hoy discusses the growth of British Cycling from the start to the end of his cycling career.
At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Chris won his first Olympic medal in the team sprint with Craig MacLean and Jason Queally – the trio won the silver medal, coming second to France. At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, Chris won his first Olympic gold in the kilo event, showing not just his physical talent but also his mental strength as he watched the three riders before him each break the Olympic record before it was his turn to set a time. His time of 1 minute 0.711 seconds set the new sea-level kilo world record.
The kilo was subsequently dropped from the Olympic Games programme, meaning Chris was required to re-focus his training – which he did with aplomb and determination. It was perhaps the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 where Chris really made a name for himself, becoming the first Briton in 100 years to win three gold medals at the same Olympics with success in the team sprint with Jamie Staff and Jason Kenny, the keirin and the sprint. His success was rewarded by a knighthood from the Queen in the 2009 New Year’s Honours and he was also crowned as the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, among numerous other accolades.
Sir Chris was voted by his fellow Team GB athletes to carry the Union Jack at the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games in 2012 – a huge honour at the best of times, but even more significant at a home Games. On the first day in the Velodrome, Chris lined up with fellow Beijing gold medallist Jason Kenny and Olympic debutante Phil Hindes for the team sprint in front of a 6000 partisan crowd which included Princes William and Harry, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prime Minister David Cameron. The trio proved to be a class apart from the competition, and Chris won his fifth Olympic Gold medal. Days later, on 7th August 2012, Chris concluded the final day of Velodrome action by winning his sixth Olympic gold in a tense keirin final, surpassing Sir Steve Redgrave’s previous British record of five.
The unofficial ‘captain’ of the Great Britain Cycling Team, Sir Chris has been an integral part of Britain’s rise to track cycling dominance and he has been an inspiration not only to his team-mates, but to thousands of budding British cyclists. The word ‘legend’ is befitting to Britain’s most successful Olympian and the most successful Olympic male cyclist of all time – Sir Chris Hoy.
Video: Life after Hoy?
Jason Kenny, Shane Sutton, Iain Dyer and Jan Van Eijden discuss the impact of Hoy's retirement and how the team will move forward without it's 'alpha male'.
Tributes to Sir Chris Hoy
Sir Dave Brailsford, British Cycling Performance Director
“I can’t speak highly enough of Chris and his career. On a personal note I will never forget his kilo in Athens – it was one of the most epic Olympic moments that I’ve ever experienced, the tension in the build-up was unreal. Chris’ application, athleticism and dedication are second to none and I’ve said it many times but he is a true Olympic champion who embodies all the Olympic values. Chris is always welcome to come back to the velodrome and share his experiences and wisdom with the next generation of cyclists, and I wish him the best of luck in his retirement.”
Shane Sutton OBE, British Cycling Head Coach
“The contribution of Sir Chris to the sport in this country isn’t measurable, he’s put us up there with the footballers and the recognition that athletes get now is on the back of the journey that he started in Sydney – I still think he’s been at the forefront of all of that. So the contribution isn’t measurable, but it’s massive. My favourite memory of Sir Chris on the boards was when he won the Olympic keirin final – effectively his last race. For me, that’s the most memorable but there have been so many great memories that he’s given to us all. Working with Sir Chris was probably one of the most enjoyable things about my job – I don’t think anyone is going to miss him like I’m going to miss him.”
Chris Boardman MBE
"For more than a decade, I've watched Sir Chris Hoy grow both as an athlete and as a person. His ability to perform consistently at the highest level over such a long period of time has astounded me but what has impressed me the most is watching him achieve all this whilst maintaining real integrity, always with a humble demeanour, always respectful of others and genuinely appreciative of the people around him. I think he is the best role model for British cycling, indeed for British sport, in living memory bar none. He is a born leader and I have no doubt he will go on to be successful in whatever field he chooses to pursue next - personally, I'm hoping it isn't commentary!"
Iain Dyer, British Cycling Sprint Coach
“Chris is no doubt an iconic figure, not only in cycling but in the wider world of sport. No matter which corner of the earth we travelled to, it wouldn’t take long for a crowd to gather wanting to get his autograph or shake his hand. I don’t think he has appreciated how far his reputation has spanned, and I have to say – it’s thoroughly deserved.”
Jan van Eijden, British Cycling Sprint Coach
“One of my favourite memories of working with Chris was at the 2008 World Championships when he won the sprint. In the quarter finals, he lost a round against Theo Bos due to a silly mistake – the way he turned it all around after that and to go on and win it was just outstanding in my eyes. Personally, I’m going to miss having Chris on the programme – he was a good laugh and told lots of jokes, and at the end of the day he always turned up and delivered results.”
“Training alongside Chris was exhausting – because he is so competitive he could never switch off, but I guess that explains how he became the athlete that he did. I will never forget the kilo win in Athens, going up to congratulate him after he’d won was such an emotional moment for me. As long as I’ve known Chris, he has never changed as a person – he’s a gentleman and a good bloke. I met him through cycling and now he is a life-long friend.”
“It was always a challenge to train against Chris as he was so competitive and he hated to lose at anything, whether it was out on the road or a 100m sprint in training. I remember the first time I trained with him in Perth and we’d both be going hammer and tongs at everything we did as neither of us wanted to be beaten. We also pulled off some serious hill climbs in Majorca; you’d think we were racing a Tour de France stage! But I let him have those ‘wins’, as I knew I could beat him in the gym and on the standing starts.
I have three favourite memories of Chris; the first obvious one is winning the gold medal with him in the team sprint at Beijing. The other two are in the keirin – I still can’t believe he won that World Championship race in Melbourne! And then to watch him win again at the Olympics – I can relate to how hard he trains, and I know he deserves to win so it’s nice to see he gets the rewards.
As a person, Chris is a funny guy; he’s the jokester of the group and loves being centre of attention. He’s genuinely a nice guy and is respectful of you and your talent – he makes everyone in the group feel welcome, no matter what age or Olympic programme they are on. He really is an all round gentleman.”
“Chris has been a very positive role model, he was there when I first started training with the GB Cycling Team in 2006. At that point Chris was already an Olympic Champion but he was fairly unknown at that time, and in all the time that I’ve known him which is a fair while now he’s always been the one who works the hardest – he just lives and breathes it. He was so committed, all the way through his career to London, it was a really good example to set. It’s the competitive side of things that I’ll miss from Chris, we always tried to beat each other in the training sessions. He was really good at setting the benchmark in training efforts which you could compare yourself to, and you knew you’d be comparing yourself to the best in the world.
"Sir Chris has been an incredible ambassador for the the sport of track cycling not only nationally but also globally. Chris was a huge inspiration throughout my career, he always had a unquestionable work ethic at training, he is a dedicated and fair sportsman, an ideal role model. I am sure that he will be very successful in whatever he chooses to pursue next in his life, it's in his blood!"
“Chris has been the perfect role model for younger riders coming into the programme, including me. I’ve really enjoyed going on training camps with him and seeing his work ethic – he still works extremely hard even though he’s an accomplished athlete. He also makes a great coffee! I wish him the best of luck in his life after cycling.”
“Sir Chris is a man befitting his title. He has as big a heart off the bike as he had on it. Regardless of the level of success he achieved in his career he always remained grounded, humble and passionate. I will cherish memories of him. The moment I plucked up the courage in 2011 to ask for his autograph, feeling like a kid at Christmas despite having known him for 10 years; sharing a photo together with our London Olympic Games gold medals; even seeing him crash in a gravel trap during the Australian GP celebrity challenge. I'll remember his competitive but fair approach to racing, his relentlessness to strive for success, his fight and passion for the sport and his desire to always find improvement in himself and his team. For all the rivalries born between athletes and nations, it seemed everyone, myself included, was happy to see Sir Chris dominate as he has done because he truly is that nice guy, that person you want to see enjoy success. He has earned the respect of his team, his nation and everyone involved in his sport. An icon, a legend and a real-life good guy. Thank you Sir Chris. May the life you have away from cycling be as happy, challenging and rewarding for you as it was when you owned the Velodromes of the world. All the best mate.”