Chris Hoy sheds tears of joy as he makes UK Olympic history
Cycling champion 99.9 per cent sure these will be his final Games as he asks: 'How can you top this?'
CYCLIST Chris Hoy became the most successful Olympian in British history on Tuesday night when he stormed to victory in the final of the men's kerrin, his second gold of the London Games and the sixth of his magnificent career. Fittingly Steve Redgrave, the man Hoy supplanted in the record books, was at the trackside to give the 36-year-old Scot a celebratory hug.
Hoy, as modest as ever, brushed off Redgrave's assertion that he was now Britain's greatest Olympian and insisted Redgrave's achievement in winning rowing gold in five consecutive Games was the superior feat.
While the nation's two most decorated athletes argued it out, the 6,000 capacity crowd in the velodrome was on its feet acclaiming Hoy's victory in the keirin, an eight-lap race in which he was pushed to the limit by Germany's Maximilian Levy. Such was the tightness of the finish that Holland's Teun Mulder and New Zealand's Simon van Velthooven couldn't be separated by a photo and were both awarded bronze medals.
Among those cheering for Hoy were the Royal princes, William and Harry, former Prime Minister John Major, Seb Coe, organiser of the 2012 Games, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London. Mum and dad were also there, waving a banner on which was emblazoned the legend: 'Chris Hoy – the Real McHoy'.
Composed in the immediate aftermath of his historic win, Hoy's sangfroid cracked as he stepped up on to the podium to collect gold medal number six. "I was in a right old state," he admitted later. "You try to compose yourself but it's surreal. I wanted to win gold in front of my home crowd. I saw everyone stepping up to the plate and thankfully it worked out for me, too."
Having been part of the winning men's team sprint last week, Hoy pocketed his second gold of the Games and Britain's 22nd, a tally not seen in an Olympics since 1908.
Minutes before his triumphant ride, Hoy had cheered on 20-year-old Laura Trott as she won gold on the track in the omnium event. Earlier in the afternoon Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin won Britain's first ever medal in the dressage grand prix special, the team event, while a couple of hours before that Alistair Brownlee had romped to victory in the men's triathlon with brother Jonny Brownlee coming home for the bronze.
With medals also being won in the men's windsurfing, men's high jump and women's individual sprint cycling, Britain's haul with five days of competition to go stands at 48, one more than the total number won at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
But few medals won at the London Olympics will spark the sort of scenes witnessed in the Velodrome last night as Hoy rode into the record books. When asked if he would still be around for the 2016 Olympics, he said: "I'm 99.9 per cent sure I won't be competing in Rio - how can you top this?"
He did hint, however, that he would make the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow his swansong so he could bow out on his native soil. But in the short-term Hoy had little on his mind other than "looking forward to having a normal life". Asked what that would entail Hoy replied: "Enjoy a drink or two. At the moment, you know, if you walk to the shops you think that's 15 minutes on my feet. Can I afford it?"