Hoy, Christopher

▪ 2009

born March 23, 1976, Edinburgh, Scot.

 In winning three gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games, Chris Hoy became the most successful male Olympic cyclist of all time. Hoy's victories in the team sprint, keirin, and individual sprint in Beijing also made him Scotland's most successful Olympian, as well as the first Briton to win three gold medals in a single Olympics since swimmer Henry Taylor in 1908. In December Hoy was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and at year's end it was revealed that he had received a knighthood in the 2009 New Year's Honours List.

      Hoy was inspired to take up cycling as a seven-year-old by the 1982 film ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. He competed in BMX until 1991, when he turned briefly to mountain biking. He also rowed for Scotland at the junior championship level. Hoy changed disciplines to track cycling in 1992, and in 1994 he won his first British championship track medal, a silver in the junior sprint.

      A pivotal point in his career came in 1997 when the British Cycling Federation launched its World Class Performance Plan, which provided funding for Hoy while he completed his studies. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in sports science. That same year he also won his first senior world championship medal, a team sprint silver.

      Hoy won a team sprint silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. In 2002 he became a double world champion in the kilometre time trial and team sprint. Though he was less successful in 2003, he regained the world kilometre title in 2004 and won gold in the kilometre time trial in Athens while setting an Olympic and world sea-level record with his time of 1 min 0.711 sec.

      The International Olympic Committee's decision in 2005 to drop the kilometre event from the program for Beijing prompted Hoy, who was noted for his analytic approach to the sport and training, to rethink his strategy and focus on pure sprinting. His final ride at the kilometre distance was on May 12, 2007, in La Paz, Bol., where he tackled the absolute world record at altitude (58.85 sec) set in 2001 by Frenchman Arnaud Tournant on the same track. Hoy fell short by just five one-thousandths of a second on his second attempt. He left Bolivia with the consolation of having taken more than a second off the world record for a flying-start 500-m time trial, clocking 24.758 sec, the following day.

      Between 2005 and 2007 Hoy won four more world titles, and at the 2008 world championships, in Manchester, Eng., he laid the foundation for his Olympic success by winning the keirin and individual sprint titles. France won the team sprint, but the Great Britain trio of Hoy, Jamie Staff, and Jason Kenny avenged that defeat in Beijing, setting a world record of 42.950 sec to give Hoy the first of his three gold medals.

      Hoy was made MBE in 2005, and in 2008 he was named an ambassador for the 2012 Olympic Games, to be held in London. The velodrome being built in Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games was to be named in his honour.

John R. Wilkinson

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Universalium. 2010.

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