Tributes flood in for 'inspirational' Hoy
- Published: 18/04/2013 at 06:49 PM
- Online news:
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday led tributes to the country's most successful Olympian Chris Hoy, after the cycling great announced his retirement from the sport.
Chris Hoy from Britain competes in the men's sprint event at the 2012 Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne on April 7, 2012. British Prime Minister David Cameron led tributes to the country's greatest Olympian Chris Hoy, after the cycling great announced his retirement from the sport.
The 37-year-old Hoy, one of the most recognisable figures in British sport, bowed out as the most decorated cyclist in Games history with six Olympic gold medals, as well as 11 world titles.
Cameron wrote on Twitter that the Scot's retirement was "the end of a remarkable career".
"His contribution to British sport and six Olympic golds will continue to inspire," he added.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Sir Chris Hoy is Scotland's greatest ever Olympian and one of the best sportsmen these islands have ever seen."
British Olympic Association Sebastian Coe, who chaired the London Games' organising committee, said Hoy "has exemplified the values that define an Olympic champion".
"His respect for opponents, and commitment to clean competition, has been unwavering. And his dignity in victory has set an example that generations of Team GB athletes will strive to emulate," Coe added.
Figures from within the world of cycling queued up to herald Hoy's achievements, with British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford hailing his commitment to the Olympic ideal.
"I can't speak highly enough of Chris and his career," said Brailsford, who, like Hoy, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II following the British team's exploits in London.
"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 of the Olympic values."
Hoy's fellow Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton, who retired after last year's London Games, tweeted: "He has been an incredible ambassador for cycling, not only nationally but also globally. A huge inspiration throughout my career."
British sprint sensation Mark Cavendish, who has won 23 Tour de France stages, said Hoy's impact on cycling could not be overstated, as he spearheaded the country's dominance of the sport in recent years.
"He's one of the most professional athletes I've ever seen; one of the nicest men, on and off the bike, that I've ever met," Cavendish said.
"What he's done for cycling for this country has been bigger than anybody can even put into words."
There were also tributes from other sports, with British tennis number one Andy Murray, a fellow Scot, describing Hoy as "one of the greatest sportsmen that Scotland ever had".
"He has great longevity, which obviously shows that he is extremely professional and very hard-working," added the US Open champion.
Hoy made his announcement, which had been widely expected, at Murrayfield Stadium in his native Edinburgh.
He had hoped to continue cycling competitively until next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where the cycling event will be held at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, but said he was no longer capable of competing at the highest level.
"I've got every last inch of energy and effort out of me," he said.
"I went to London and was successful but I didn't realise quite how much London took out of me. To go on for another year would be one year too far. I don't want to turn up just to wave to fans and get a tracksuit."
Asked to select his career highlight, Hoy singled out his first Olympic gold medal, in the 1km track time-trial in Athens in 2004, and his last, in the keirin at last year's London Games.
"Athens -- stepping onto the podium, hearing my name read out and then hearing 'Olympic champion' after it. To me, that was what my career was all about," he said.
"I thought nothing could compare to that but in London, to end my career with my sixth gold medal in the nature of the keirin, was a really special moment.
"But I could go on all day. I'm fortunate I've got so many great memories and I've had so much fun. I still feel the same. I'm going to cycle for the rest of my life and encourage others to take up the sport."
Hoy is an ambassador for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and has also announced plans to launch his own brand of bicycles.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency