Ahead of the Track Worlds in Australia, Sir Chris Hoy, four time Olympic champion, is hoping to defend all three titles in London
At 36, with a Knighthood, four Olympic and ten world championships gold medals in the trophy cabinet plus a velodrome in Glasgow about to be opened bearing his name you would think Sir Chris Hoy would be happy to relax in a chair in a swish hotel recounting his glory days. “Relaxing in a swish hotel – yes. Looking back – no” he says.
Given his superstar status in Britain, Hoy is accommodating to local media in Melbourne as he relaxes at his team’s hotel adjacent to Melbourne’s sporting heart – the Melbourne Cricket Ground and adjacent to Hisense and Rod Laver Arenas. The super sprinter arrived in Melbourne on Saturday for next week’s UCI Track Cycling World Championships desperate to reclaim his mantle as the world’s fastest cyclist.
Hoy hopes to defend his three Olympic gold medals in London and will race those three events in Melbourne – the Team Sprint, Individual Sprint and Keirin. Performance here is crucial as final selection for Great Britain’s one sprint spot at the Games may ride on what occurs down under.
“It’s our last big hit out before the Games so it is very important in that respect and obviously selection hasn’t been finalised for the British team yet so I am looking forward to putting in another good performance hopefully in the Sprint, the Keirin and Team Sprint and try and stake my claim for selection for the Games,” Hoy said.
“I’ve done pretty well this year so far and if I can have another good performance (in Melbourne) then hopefully it will be enough for selection.” Hoy is understated also. After a lackluster few years post Beijing, and a World Championships in 2011 that delivered a Silver in the Keirin behind Australian rival Shane Perkins and bronze in the Sprint and Team Sprint, he made a stunning return to form at the recent London World Cup which official opened the Olympic velodrome.
“I would love to repeat my performances at Beijing in London but to be honest, for me I’m just going to go out there and do my best and just hope to win a gold medal. If I could win two or three that would be an amazing result but really my aim is to be Olympic champion in London and if I can repeat (what I did) in Beijing, then that’s the dream scenario.”
Changes to the Olympic qualification mean each nation can only have one representative in the sprint events, which means competition for medals at the world championships will be much tougher than the Games themselves. Something Hoy dismisses as adding extra pressure. “To be honest it’s just the same as any other championships from my perspective. I just want to go out there and do the best I can. You don’t think about the consequences of what could happen during the racing, you’re just racing trying to take one ride at a time.”
“You want your teammates to go well because they are part of your Team Sprint but obviously they are still rivals in terms of the Keirin and Sprint selections.”
On the Track Champs in Melbourne, he says “It’s an amazing stand alone event – it’s a World Championships, you have the chance to be World champion, to wear the rainbow jersey so that’s a fantastic opportunity and from my perspective we would never have not been coming,” Hoy said in response to the possibility that the Brits considered by passing the championships to concentrate on the Games.
Before he gets to London, he has to confirm his spot on the British team in the Individual Sprint and the Keirin. Hoy’s main rival in the sprint comes from within, teammate Jason Kenny who he beat in the gold medal race off in Beijing. Kenny, 23, is the reigning World champion after being handed the title earlier this year after Frenchman Grégory Baugé was stripped of his results for missing drugs tests.
“You’re never 100 percent confident, you just go in there and hope that your performances are enough but Jason’s had a fantastic few years. “Since Beijing, he has been there or thereabouts at almost all the Championships. He is World champion just now, so technically it’s me that’s knocking on the door trying to beat him.”
Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny – friends, roomates and rivals.
“He is a great guy; we are good friends and roommates here. We get on really well, and obviously that all changes on the track, you are trying to do everything you possibly can to beat each other but it’s a great rivalry we have, we are good friends and whoever wins you get off the track and you shake each other’s hand and accept the result.”
Hoy loves going fast; in fact he says his weakness is that he is impatient. Off the boards, he drives a Lotus 211 and a Jaguar XKR. On the boards the Scotsman possesses a pair of thighs so big they can lift nearly three times his body weight and propel him from a standing start to a top speed of close to 80km an hour within seconds.
“I still love it as much as I did 12-16 years ago, my first Worlds was 1996 so it seems like a while ago now. You find yourself reflecting on all these previous years and trips and you’re telling stories to the younger guys and they look at you with glazed expressions when you’re talking about the names of guys in years gone by and you realise your almost double the age of the younger lads in the team.”
“My ideal swan song would be to have a successful Games in London and then go on to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow because I have never actually raced internationally in my home country in Scotland.“
The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome will host cycling events at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.