I, like just about everyone else, thought I’d add my two-penneth about Sir Chris Hoy in the week of his retirement.
Why? Occasionally a sports star transcends the sport he or she works in to become a household name. Sometimes for all the right reasons too – ie what they achieved in their sport, rather than any off-the-field antics or scandals.
Sir Chris Hoy is a shining example of this. It’s his record on the track, including his six gold medals at the Olympics, that speaks for itself, but if you’re in any doubt just read some of the glowing words written and said about him online and in the papers following his retirement from international competition, announced yesterday.
In addition to his sporting acheivements, the modest Hoy has been a great ambassador for cycling, a role he looks likely to continue – in one form or another – post-retirement.
To be fair, most of the Team GB cycle team have done great things for the image of cycling. Maybe someone’s been putting something in their Shredded Wheat.
I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Sir Chris last year, post-London 2012 Olympics.
Writing for a trade mag, you rarely get the chance to speak to cycle stars (unlike the consumer press) and consequently I’ve fired a couple of email questions at Victoria Pendleton, had a phone interview with Geraint Thomas during the 2011 Tour and hastily scribbled some notes while chatting with Cedric Gracia. But that’s about it in over four years, and rightly so.
I came across Sir Chris Hoy at the launch of his Hoy bike line. I’m not ashamed to say my pulse quickened in the presence of the great man. He did, of course, turn out to be exactly the kind of nice, friendly chap he appears to be and was even interested in what we had to say, when all the time we were just chuffed to have a chat with him.
At the launch he also seemed genuinely interested in what the assembled throng thought of his first foray into creating a bike range and spoke of his enthusiasm for the project, but, most of all, his passion for cycling in general.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that Sir Chris Hoy is the kind of ambassador that any sport would sell its right arm to have. That he is a part of the cycling world and appears to be staying an active member of the cycle community – as well as being a part of the bike trade through his Hoy bike line – is a massive bonus for the image of cycling in the UK, I’d argue. And on the occasion of his retirement, it’s not a bad time to dwell on that.