After 19 years, 11 world titles and six Olympic gold medals, Sir Chris Hoy today called time on his cycling career. admitting that to compete at next year’s Commonwealth Games “would be a year too far”.
The 37-year-old had considered competing next year in Glasgow at the velodrome bearing his name but he told a packed press conference at Murrayfield Stadium in his home city of Edinburgh that he had decided to quit now because he feared he was no longer capable of matching the heights of performance he had enjoyed throughout a remarkable career.
“Today, I formally announce my retirement from international competition,” he said. “This is a decision that hasn’t come easily but, after discussing it at length with my wife Sarra, my family and my coaches, I am happy that this is the right time.
“During my 19 years competing at senior level, I’ve witnessed the sport of cycling in the UK flourish and transform beyond all recognition, and to have been there for the journey gives me huge satisfaction.
“Having had time since the London Olympics to reflect on my career, I know this is the right moment for me to bow out.
“Nothing would have given me more pride and pleasure than to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but I feel that it would be a year too far and I wouldn’t be able to perform at a level which would do myself and the team justice.”
Hoy is rightly credited with being a key figure in revolutionising track cycling in the UK. At the start of his career, he cut a lonely figure at the top of the sport, keeping his place there as the funding increased, the specialist coaches came in and interest in British cycling exploded.
Hoy first developed his passion for cycling as a BMX racer which he did until the age of 14, while his attention turned to the track at the age of 18.
Hoy’s first medal on the world stage was a silver in the team sprint at the 1999 championship in Berlin, a medal he managed to match in the same event at his first Olympics in Sydney the following year.
But he first properly came to prominence with the British public at the 2004 Olympics in Athens when he won the 1km time trial.
Three further golds followed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, which was all the more remarkable as his specialist event, the kilo, had been scrapped from the Games schedule. Hence, he rebranded himself as a sprint and keirin specialist and was subsequently rewarded for those on-track heroics with a knighthood.
The path to London last year was not without difficulties as a back injury came close to thwarting his ambitions but he cemented his longevity at the top of the sport with two more gold medals in the team sprint and keirin to cap a remarkable career.
Mark Cavendish led the tributes to Hoy today, when he said: “You cannot underestimate what Chris Hoy has done for cycling in this country. He’s been the foundation of the sport here for many years and has been a key to its success. He’s been there throughout.
“You’d struggle to meet a more thorough professional and, off the bike, he’s just an incredibly nice guy. I’m proud to say that he’s been such a strong part of the sport I love.”
Hoy professed a desire to continue cycling in retirement and will now turn his attention to his work as a Games ambassador for Glasgow as well as focusing on charity work with the likes of Unicef and SAMH as well as developing his own range of bicycles.