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Hanging out with Mr Nice Guy

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| 07:48 UK time, Wednesday, 9 June 2010

It's not every day you get to hang out with a true legend of sport, but that's what I went down to the Manchester Velodrome to do recently.

Four-time Olympic gold medallist, 10-time world champion, Commonwealth champion and a winner of 30 World Cup series events, Sir Chris Hoy very kindly spent an hour with us at the track.

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Sir Chris Hoy gives Steve and the North West Tonight team a tour of Manchester Velodrome

After the tour of the huge arena, which was catering to badminton players and a local schools cycling session at the time, we decided the most interesting place to have the interview was in the workshop.

I had no idea there would be a team of people working on the bikes, readying them for training sets and competition. With stations for tyre pumping, washing, frame maintenance and a storeroom with tens of thousand of pounds worth of tyres the whole thing was fascinating.

The TV crew was set up and Chris walked in bang on cue. It never fails to surprise me the sheer bulk of the man. He is a walking muscle, with biceps and quads every fella would want.

I was in fear for the bones in my hand but he went easy on the handshake. He apologised for keeping us waiting on our 1pm appointment and with a quick glance at the clock I realised it was 1.03pm.

"Ready to go when you are gang," he said, then, "Oh hold on a second, I've not met this guy," and off he went to introduce himself to the new mechanic on the other side of the room.

Chris has always been an all-round good guy and the first time I met him was at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002. We were having a bit of banter about him winning gold for Scotland in the 1km time trial, beating reigning Olympic champion, Jason Queally from England.

Swimming for England at the time, I might have suggested it was a fluke. Enough said!

Four years later, he suggested I get on the back of a tandem with him - which I politely declined - but there was plenty for us to talk about in terms of his on track performances, training regimes, bike set- up, the structure of British Cycling and sports science but I was keen to find out about how life has changed for him since Beijing.

How does a knighted, Sports Personality of the Year, ambassador for a home Olympics get on with daily life?

Simply buying a box of cereal (which he could well be on the front of) in between training sessions becomes an impromptu autograph-signing.

Trying to fit in flights to Zambia to raise money for Unicef, endless media calls and commercial responsibilities to sponsors are all added complications to Chris's life but he talks about them with as if he's lucky to be doing them.

"Passion" and "humility" are two words I would use to describe a man I believe will be our greatest ever Olympian come London in 2012.

He is a great example of sport's perfect storm: a fine mix of insatiable desire for success, talent and domineering physique, plugged into a world-class delivery system.

It would be quite fitting for him to win another couple of gold medals at a home Olympics in a stadium named after him. I for one will by trying to get a ticket and if not be screaming at my TV.

Comments

  • 1. At 6:05pm on 11 Jun 2010, Nick_Kennedy wrote:

    I am amazed at Chris's ability to fit his Olympic training around his other, numerous, commitments. He is quite rightly hailed as a phenomenal Olympian - his achievements are superb - but I would challenge your suggestion that at London 2012 he would become our greatest ever Olympian, were he to win one or more Gold medal.

    To me, greatness for an Olympian is the ability to win over time, and while Chris has won multiple medals in cycling, he has 'only' won Golds at two Olympic Games: Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

    To my mind Steve Redgrave is, and will remain for some time, our greatest ever Olympian. His achievement of Gold medals spanning five consecutive Olympic Games is outstanding beyond words, and for this he has rightly been recognised.

    Chris and Steve are two of the most incredible athletes that have graced the Olympic Games but we don't have to create a need for a new 'greatest ever Olympian' when we already have one who is likely to hold the accolade for many more Olympiads.

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  • 2. At 9:47pm on 19 Jun 2010, Ian Ellis wrote:

    I know I'm being a pedant, but how can you say "Chris walked in bang on cue" if "with a quick glance at the clock I realised it was 1.03pm"?

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  • 3. At 3:14pm on 01 Jul 2010, No5gonk wrote:

    Yep, you are being pedantic.

    You read an interesting article and that is the only point or observation you can make?

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