Six-time gold medalist Chris Hoy retired from cycling Thursday, saying he had expended ”every last ounce of effort and energy” in becoming Britain’s most decorated Olympian and spearheading the country’s rise to the top of the sport.
Hoy decided to quit now rather than compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in his native Scotland, where the track cycling will be held in Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
”I feel I like have got every last ounce of effort and energy out of myself,” the 37-year-old Hoy said at a news conference in Edinburgh. ”I wouldn’t want to turn up there as a shadow of my former self.”
Hoy is cycling’s most successful Olympian, having won his first gold in Athens in 2004 and capturing three more in Beijing in 2008 and another two in London last year. He also won a silver medal in Sydney in 2000.
Along with Tour de France champion and seven-time Olympic medalist Bradley Wiggins, Hoy helped cycling move from a minority sport in Britain to one of its most popular pursuits.
”Chris is an icon and he has earned a revered place among our nation’s greatest sporting heroes,” British Olympic Association chairman Sebastian Coe said.
Hoy’s collection of Olympic golds is one more than British rowing great Steve Redgrave, who won five from 1984-2000. Redgrave was there to congratulate a tearful Hoy after his final gold – holding off Maximilian Levy of Germany in the home straight of the keirin at the London Olympics in a typical show of resilience.
”To win on that day, and the nature I did, was a pretty special moment,” said Hoy, who acknowledged that his body was telling him he was still ”good but not good enough.”
”I think it just dawned on me over time that I am satisfied, happy, content. There is no lingering doubt. I know I have done everything I can and it would be a mistake to go on.”
Hoy’s 13-year career included 11 world titles and two Commonwealth golds. He received a knighthood in 2008 and is known as Sir Chris.
By winning the team sprint, keirin and sprint at the 2008 Games, he became the first Briton in 100 years to win three gold medals at one Olympics. He overcame a career-threatening hip injury in 2009 and held off the growing threat of teammate Jason Kenny to star in London in 2012.
”What he’s done for cycling for this country has been bigger than anybody can even put into words,” British cyclist Mark Cavendish said.
Hoy says his sport is moving in the right direction.
”Just to see the legacy, not just for myself but for the whole of the sport – to see what we have achieved as a sport over the last 10, 15, 20 years,” Hoy said. ”It’s a huge satisfaction to see the future of the sport flourishing.
”I am going to cycle for the rest of my life. And I hope to encourage other people to get into the sport and ride bikes too.”