Triple Medalist in 2008


Flying Scotsman Chris Hoy equaled a 100-year-old British record on his way to winning his third gold medal of the Beijing Games on Tuesday.

Now the 32-year-old from Edinburgh really can think about forgiving the International Cycling Union (UCI). Hoy was distraught in the aftermath of Athens, where he claimed his first gold in the kilometer, when the UCI picked the event as the one to make way on the Games program for BMX. But that decision has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

After four years of hard work trying to turn his formidable four-lap time trialing skills into ones with the power and acceleration needed for the sprint and the keirin, Hoy is now Summer Games champion in both. After being presented with a bouquet of flowers by UCI chief Pat McQuaid as he stood on the podium, Hoy said the world cycling chief had attempted to make peace. “Pat said to me, ’you’ve got to forgive me now, you’ve won three gold medals!’” said Hoy, who on Tuesday became the first British athlete since swimmer Henry Cotton in 1908 to win three gold at a single Olympics. In a campaign, which has also given him, gold in the team sprint and the keirin, Hoy admitted he’d been programmed by team bosses to “race like a robot”.

But when it came to the podium, emotions came flooding through. “It’s a relief it’s all over. You try to keep your emotions capped through the whole campaign, I’ve been trying to operate like a robot, but sometimes you’re only human,” he added. His form early in the Olympics, when he helped Britain to team sprint gold with Jason Kenny and Jamie Staff, proved a boon for former teammate Jason Queally, the kilometer champion from the Sydney 2000 Games. “Jason Queally put 50 quid (pounds) on me (to win), so I think he’s won two and a half grand!” said Hoy. It was an historic sprint win for Hoy, who had to put team loyalties to one side as he fought to prevent an upset from English teammate Jason Kenny. Kenny, a 20-year-old from Bolton, picked up the silver. The bronze medal went to Mickael Bourgain of France after he dominated Germany’s Maximilian Levy in a third leg decider.

Kenny admitted he had to pretend he was not racing against Hoy, who regularly beats him in their training sessions. “I just tried to put it to the back of my mind. He’s only human and he’s got strengths and weaknesses. Well, maybe not so much weaknesses, (more) weaker strengths,” said Kenny. "I raced it to win, I honestly believed I had a chance in that race. I gave it everything I had and in the end Chris just got the better of me. “We are teammates and we train every day together. Nobody deserves it better than Chris.” Compared to the big and powerful Hoy, Kenny is slight – albeit with the big legs needed for track’s demanding speed events. “Chris is a big, strong guy and he’s got a big, long sprint. He’s really hard to race against,” added Kenny. “He’s probably the closest thing to the full package.”

Hoy now has a total of five Summer Games medals, four of them gold. And he admits Kenny will be one to watch for the London Games in 2012, when the Scot will aim to add to his medal collection. “I hope I can hang on to him (Kenny) till then,” said Hoy. "I’ve been training with him all year, and been keeping my eye on him. I half thought this (final) might happen. “Jason is such a talented kid, he’s so skilful, so fast and he’s got it up top as well. He’s very sharp and keeps it cool. He’s definitely going to be a big champion in the future.” British sprint coach Iain Dyer deserved a pat on the back as well on the night he saw Victoria Pendleton claim gold in the women’s sprint.


Matt Murray


August 20, 2008