SPORTS stars and politicians today united to call for a permanent tribute to Sir Chris Hoy to be erected in the Capital after the cyclist secured his status as the greatest Olympian in British history.
Sir Chris’ dramatic victory in the Keirin race yesterday clinched a sixth gold medal – beating Steve Redgrave’s haul and ensuring that a journey that began on the streets of Murrayfield will end with a place among sporting legends.
It is already expected that he will be honoured with the Freedom of Edinburgh, but some have claimed even that will not go far enough in recognising the star’s unparalleled achievements.
Former world champion boxer Alex Arthur said no tribute would be too much, such was his pride at his compatriot’s win. “I think they should have something erected for Chris Hoy, absolutely,” he said. “I would like to see a statue of him on a bike where the most people could see it like Princes Street or George Street.
“We should have an open-top bus and a special day dedicated to him. I think what he has achieved is as big as that.”
Politicians from across the political spectrum united in their support for a lasting monument to Sir Chris.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said she believed a statue in Edinburgh would be “perfect”.
She added: “While I’m delighted that Sir Chris Hoy will have a velodrome with his name on it in my patch in Glasgow, I think it’s fair that the city of his birth has something to commemorate his unique and unsurpassed achievement.”
SNP MSP for Edinburgh Western Colin Keir said: “He’s been a credit to this country and his achievements certainly should be recognised.
“He should be given the freedom of the city but a memorial would be great as well. The guy is something special.”
Sir Chris, a former George Watson’s pupil, was given his first bike – a girl’s hand-me-down – as a six-year-old, and promptly broke it while attempting to emulate the BMX stunts he had seen in the film ET.
Fortunately, he had more success in the saddle yesterday, storming to victory after overcoming a late scare when he was temporarily overtaken by German Maximilian Levy on the back straight.
Speaking after his historic win in the velodrome, Sir Chris admitted he had completed his last Olympic race but hoped to compete for Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
He said: “I’m in shock. You try to compose yourself but it’s surreal. I can’t put into words what it means to me. It’s one of the greatest feelings I have ever had.
“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.”
Sir Chris’s parents, David and Carol, held a banner with the words “Chris Hoy, the real McHoy” written across it as delirious fans waved Union flags in honour of their hero, whose road to stardom began at humble Dunedin Cycling Club in 1992 before he first tasted track competition on the Meadowbank velodrome competing for City of Edinburgh Racing Club.
Moments after his son’s victory, David said: “I am just so proud of him. I am going to start crying. You bottle everything up in long competitions and then it all comes out. I just couldn’t be happier for him.”
Carol added: “I am over the moon.”
Another of the Capital’s greatest Olympic champions, 1980 100m gold medallist, Allan Wells, added his voice to the tributes flooding in from across the world.
“It’s a great achievement for him, it’s great for his sport and it’s great for his country,” Wells said. “What he has achieved is everlasting greatness.”
Wells’ sentiments were echoed by Sports Minister Shona Robison, who witnessed Hoy’s triumph in person.
Speaking from the velodrome, she said: “Sir Chris Hoy is now Scotland and Britain’s greatest ever Olympian and an icon to millions. It’s absolutely incredible what he has done here tonight and throughout his career, and everyone back in Scotland is extremely proud of him.”
The Royal Mail announced last night that a second Edinburgh post box – in Hunter Square – would be painted gold in honour of Hoy today while a fresh commemorative stamp of the cyclist will also be issued.
‘His royal hoyness’
FOLLOWING extraordinary success at the velodrome in London there will be no shortage of honours for Sir Chris Hoy.
He is expected to receive the Freedom of Edinburgh, while the city has been given a second golden postbox, in Hunter Square, pictured, to mark his second gold medal of the 2012 Games.
As well as calls for a statue in the Capital, the velodrome being created for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is set to be named after him.
That has sparked calls for something fitting to be named after the cyclist – Britain’s most decorated Olympian – in his home city. But what?
Suggestions included re-naming Edinburgh’s World Famous High Street “The Hoy Street” as a lasting tribute, while those involved in cycling in the city have suggested installing special “Hoy Lanes” for cyclists around the Capital, and even re-naming the cycle lanes on Princes Street after him.
Other left-field ideas included turning Edinburgh Castle into “Hoy House”, renaming his old school George Watson’s “The Sir Chris Hoy Institute of Olympic Achievement” and even giving his name to the replacement Forth Crossing, which could become the “Hoy Bridge”.
On social networking site Twitter there was no shortage of congratulation for Sir Chris, with suggestions that he be invited by the Queen to form the next UK Government even surpassed by the suggestion he should now be referred to as “his Royal Hoyness”.
Of course the man himself was ever humble, and despite passing the gold haul of Sir Steve Redgrave was keen to pay tribute to one of his heroes.
“Sir Steve Redgrave is an inspiration, to be mentioned in the same sentence is an honour,” he said. “He’ll always be the greatest.”
By Dr Jon Kelly
What does it take to be a champion?
Riders will have built their lives around this one moment for at least four years. Hoy has shown repeatedly that he can beat the best in the world, but each time is a new race so maintaining confidence is key. Riders also need the mental toughness to handle the stresses
Correct fuelling is crucial for success. Even within the competition, getting this right is important. Riders will deplete themselves in a heat then need to be back on the start line for the next round, ready to go again, sometimes in less than an hour
Strong legs can only effectively drive the bike forward if these are matched to a strong “chassis”. Simply holding the bike on the line is no easy task either. Body position is also important for aerodynamics since far more drag comes from the rider than
The muscles of the legs and gluteals produce most of the force that goes into the pedal and so their strength is important. However, they also need to be able to continue to effectively produce force even when the pedals are spinning around three times per second, and maintain the effort all the way to the line. So time in the gym will be complemented by longer rides on the road and drills to be able to use the rider’s strength to optimise speed on
The bikes are built from carbon fibre using the same technologies used for F1 cars. They need to be strong enough to withstand the enormous forces involved, stiff enough to transmit as much of the force from the pedals to the rear wheel as possible, yet incredibly light
Overall conditioning is important. A key part of success is being able to tolerate huge training loads over a long period. This means maximising recovery, rehabilitating from existing injuries and minimising the risks of new ones. In the most intense sessions, riders may only do a few seconds of effort but these efforts are so intense that they will leave the riders fatigued
Information provided by Dr Jon Kelly, University of Edinburgh. Researcher in the biomechanics of cycling