Team GB's Chris Hoy eyes one last challenge while Victoria Pendleton craves 'normal life'


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The Independent Online

While Sir Chris Hoy faces one last race, Victoria Pendleton says she just wants a "normal life".

The king and queen of British cycling won gold and silver on an emotional night in the velodrome as they brought down the curtain on their Olympic careers. But while Pendleton said she was relieved that it was all over, Sir Chris admitted he would not be able to resist one last challenge.

He said it was 99.9 per cent certain he would not compete in another Olympics but declared that racing at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where the velodrome has been named in his honour, “would be the perfect end to my career”.

He also told BBC Olympics Breakfast that for a second he thought he had lost the final race. He said: “You’re never sure till you cross the line. I was feathering the throttle a little with a lap and a half to go. Then I heard the bell and glimpsed my coach going wild and I knew I had to give it everything.”

His nearest rival got half a length ahead of him and he said: “I thought just for a second that it might be all over but I just kept going.”

Sir Chris, 36, from Edinburgh — who became Britain’s greatest Olympian after winning his sixth gold medal in the keirin last night — has a degree in sport science and would be in demand as a speaker once he leaves the sport.

Another option might be to open his own coffee shop. He learned to be a barista at a specialist coffee school in Perth, Australia, while at cycling training camp. He admits he has become obsessed by coffee-making, taking his own machine and beans grinder with him to his flat in the athletes’ village.

In the meantime he said: “I’ll take a few months off the bike completely. I’m just looking forward to having a normal life now for the next couple of months and spending time with my wife Sarra, being able to enjoy a drink or two, going out to play golf.

“I wouldn’t be continuing doing this at the age of 36 if I didn’t love it, but it is hard work, so two more years is a big ask. But there couldn’t be a bigger draw than a home Commonwealth Games.”

Pendleton, who had to settle for silver after losing out to long-time rival Anna Meares in the individual sprint, said she would now like to start a family.

With tears streaming down her face and to rapturous applause, she said: “The world is my oyster now. I’m ready to start a normal life, seeing friends and family, doing things I haven’t been allowed to do. First I’m going to start walking the dogs in the morning.”

The 31-year-old rider had vowed to end her career on a high as a “tribute” to her fiancé and coach Scott Gardner. The romance will culminate in their wedding next year and Pendleton said she plans to start a family “in a couple of years”.

She said: “Ultimately I’d love to have children and it has not been on the radar while being an athlete, as you have to be so self-centred. But maybe in a couple of years.”