Chris Hoy rejects SNP dream of separate Scottish Olympic team
'Frustrated' at being drawn into politics, Olympian says he's proud to compete alongside English athletes
SIR CHRIS HOY, officially Britain's greatest ever Olympian after winning his sixth gold medal this week, has poured cold water on the Scottish Nationalists' plan to field a separate Scottish team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
SNP leader Alex Salmond was the subject of widespread ridicule before the Games when he called on Scots to cheer on what he termed 'Scolympians' - members of Team GB who are of Scottish origin.
When Hoy, himself a 'Scolympian', was asked by Channel 4 News whether he considered himself a Scottish Olympian or a British Olympian, he said:
"I'm Scottish and I'm British, I think you can be both. They're not mutually exclusive but it's frustrating because as an athlete all you want to do is race and be the best you can and not get dragged into politics.
"All I can say is that I'm very proud to be part of this team, to be part of the British team, to be alongside English and Welsh and guys from the Isle of Man ... It's been great and I'm proud to be part of it."
The Daily Telegraph notes that Hoy, who carried the Union Jack at the head of Team GB at the Olympics opening ceremony, rejected Salmond's plans for a separate team the first time the issue came up, back in 2008 after Hoy won three gold medals in Beijing. The cyclist, who is based in Manchester, said Scotland lacks the necessary training facilities.
The paper observes that since Britain's record gold rush began last week, SNP politicians have begun praising 'Team GB' as a whole.
London mayor Boris Johnson has also used Team GB's success to argue against the case for Scottish independence, which will be put to a referendum in 2014.
Writing in The Spectator, Johnson said: "At the biggest sporting event of our lives, the one that has most passionately engaged the country, we are cheering for a political entity that is meant to be about to break up.
"One of the many happy features of these wonderful Olympics is surely that they have retarded Alex Salmond in his campaign to end the Union." ·