August 7, 2012
LEGEND has it that a six-year-old Chris Hoy was inspired to cycle by watching the film ET, the Extra-Terrestrial.
What happened to the Edinburgh youngster after that was certainly out of this world.
He quite simply became the greatest cyclist ever, an 11-time world champion and the possessor of six Olympic gold medals.
Hoy’s glittering career started with a £5 jumble sale bike and progressed to competitive BMX-ing, in which he was ranked second in the UK and ninth in the world.
At the age of 10 he was transfixed by track cycling when his home city hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1986.
Hoy’s first Olympic involvement earned him a silver medal in Sydney in 2000. After that it was gold all the way — one in Athens, three in Beijing and finally two more in London.
That hat-trick in 2008 saw him become the first British Olympian in 100 years to claim three golds at one summer Games. He was knighted the following year.
He carried the Team GB flag at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Games, knowing that one more gold medal would put him level with Sir Steve Redgrave on five.
He achieved that in the team sprint, setting a new world record, then overtook Redgrave as Britain’s greatest when he won the keirin.
By then Hoy was 36 and had been pounding the pedals for most of his life.
Despite the temptation to ride at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the velodrome that bears his name, he decided to retire – to become a racing driver!