Chris Hoy to be handed freedom of Edinburgh

Sir Chris, seen here with his London gold
Sir Chris, seen here with his London gold
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SIR Chris Hoy is set to receive the Freedom of Edinburgh after he raced into the record books to stake his claim to being the greatest Olympian in British history.

The Capital track cycling star’s gold medal saw him draw level with Sir Steve Redgrave’s impressive haul of six Olympic medals.

And with five golds and one silver he is, in Olympic terms, ranked top of the table.

Now he looks set to become only the fourth Freeman of the Capital in more than 20 years.

The 36-year-old will follow in the footsteps of Sir Sean Connery in 1991, Nelson Mandela in 1997 and Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2005 if awarded the honour.

Hoy was joined by Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny in seeing off the challenge of France to claim victory in cycling’s team sprint in world record time last night.

He said: “It’s overwhelming. We knew it was possible, but it’s easier said than done.

“I dug deeper there than I ever dug before because I didn’t want to let the boys down as they’ve been riding so well.

“It’s just immense pride to be able to do it here in the UK in front of this crowd, who have been phenomenal.

“You can’t understand what this means to us, to ride in front of our home crowd is a once-in-a-lifetime 
opportunity.”

Speaking of his fifth gold medal, he said: “It’s massive, a lot bigger than the previous ones. It’s been incredible.”

Following the race, deputy council leader Steve Cardownie set the wheels in motion towards bestowing Sir Chris the city’s top award.

A report has already been requested for majority approval by city councillors. Councillor Cardownie said: “Sir Chris Hoy should certainly be honoured for his sportsmanship. The fact that he has scaled the greatest of sporting heights and hails from Edinburgh is just fantastic. There has never been a sportsman like him from 
Edinburgh.”

Hoy now goes for his sixth gold in the Keirin on Tuesday, aiming to pull level with Bradley Wiggins for most British Olympic medals and surpass Sir Steve.

Yesterday also saw Edinburgh canoeist David Florence pick up a second silver medal in the two-man canoe slalom.

He said: “It has been an incredible day, I feel very proud to have once again medalled at the Olympics. I’d like to thank all my supporters for their messages of support, especially those at the Forth Canoe Club and Scottish Canoeing.”

However, the shine was slightly taken off the Lothians’ day as boxer Josh Taylor bowed out following a spirited defeat to Italian Dominico Valentino.

Greatest honour that Edinburgh can bestow

THE Freedom of the City of Edinburgh was first granted in 1459. It is the greatest honour the city can bestow, granted only in rare circumstances, following a motion to the city council approved by a 75 per cent majority.

Early recipients had the right to travel through the city without paying tolls, but the title is now purely honorary. There are five living Freemen – the Queen, Prince Philip, Sean Connery, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.