SIR Chris Hoy has confirmed his retirement from competitive cycling, after deciding that taking part in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games would stretch his sporting career “a year too far”.
Britain’s most successful Olympian was clearly emotional as he told a news conference in Edinburgh yesterday: “Nothing would have given me more pride and pleasure than to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, but I feel that it would be a year too far and I wouldn’t be able to perform at a level which would do myself and the team justice.
“I hope this will give the chance for a younger rider to step into the team and shine.”
He added: “It was not a decision I took easily or lightly but I know it’s the right time. I thought about it very hard.
“I thought I’ve got every last ounce of energy out of myself. I got to London and I don’t think people realise how much that took out of me.”
Next year’s Games would have been the perfect way to bring down the curtain on his career, with cycling events to be held in the newly built Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, but the Scot insists he has no regrets. “I’m happy, I’m satisfied,” he said. “There is no lingering doubt. I’ve done everything I can.”
British Olympic Association chairman Lord Coe paid tribute, saying Sir Chris would inspire athletes for generations to come.
“Throughout his remarkable career, Sir Chris has exemplified the values that define an Olympic champion,” he said. “His pursuit of excellence has been tireless. His respect for opponents, and commitment to clean competition, has been unwavering.”
Sir Chris said he would continue to be involved in sport in many ways, including as a mentor for the Scotland team at next year’s Commonwealth Games.
After winning his fifth and sixth Olympic gold medals in London last year, the 37-year-old insisted he would carry on to Glasgow only if he thought he had a realistic chance of winning.
He will now be an ambassador for Glasgow’s 2018 Youth Olympics bid as well as next year’s Commonwealth Games, and will continue to design and develop his own range of bikes and support a number of charities.
But he is unlikely to go down the same route as many retired sports stars and make appearances on any reality TV shows.
“It’s not that I don’t have frivolity in my life, it’s just that doing these things in front of millions of people on telly is maybe not the way to do it for me. Strictly Come Dancing and the jungle and all these things – it doesn’t really appeal to me.
“And it’s nothing against the people that do that. If I enjoyed dancing, then I’d be up for it. I just enjoy my sport.”
Among those Sir Chris consulted before making his decision was Louise Martin, the chair of Sport Scotland, who joined Lord Coe in praising not only his sporting achievement but also the way in which he conducted himself throughout his career.
“Sir Chris has achieved an unprecedented level of success in sport yet has always remained remarkably modest about his incredible achievements,” she said. “Our greatest ever Olympian, Chris’s professionalism, positive attitude and dedication made him the perfect role model to children and young people, as well as to those aspiring to be as good as him in track cycling and other sports.
“Chris had dearly hoped to compete at Glasgow 2014 but knows only too well how difficult it would have been to sustain the fiercely intense training regime required to succeed, so we fully back his decision, wish him every success in the future and, above all, thank him profusely for his immense contribution to Scottish sport.”