By Martin Couper
OLYMPIC hero Chris Hoy pedalled his way into the history books with a hat-trick of gold medals at the Beijing Olympics -and now his coaches and friends are backing him to star at the London 2012 games.
Riders and officials from Scottish Cycling gathered at the Grosvenor Hilton in Edinburgh to watch Hoy, 32, become the first Brit in 100 years to claim three golds at a Games to add to the one he bagged in Athens four years ago.
Hoy’s achievements have been made all the more remarkable by the fact the cyclist had to re-train after his favoured Kilometre Time Trial was scrapped after he won the discipline in 2004.
The intimate group of followers and well-wishers were in raptures when the Scot from Edinburgh breezed past fellow Brit Jason Kenny to capture the Olympic Men’s Individual Sprint title.
Dave Clark, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Scottish Institute of Sport, praised Hoy’s work ethic and perseverance to bag his third gold of the Games.
Clark, who has worked with Hoy for nearly nine years, believes there is no athlete more deserving and expects to see him taking gold again in four years time.
He said: “It’s a special day. Chris always steps up for these occasions, it’s momentous. He has achieved something that is going to sit in the history books for some time I would hope.
“Hard work and Chris are synonymous. He works hard all of the time, the one thing I think typifies him is that after every competition he sits down and evaluates what would need to be done to take it to the next level.
“I have no doubt that if Chris chooses to carry on and focuses himself, then there is no question that 2012 is within his reach.”
While the Union Jacks were being waved around the Veledrome arena in Beijing, it was the Saltire that took pride of place in the hotel suite where Hoy’s supporters had assembled.
And Jackie Davidson, Chief Executive of Scottish Cycling hailed Hoy as Scotland’s “total athlete,” claiming his achievements for helping to put the country on the cycling map.
She said: “He has completely raised the profile of cycling, particularly within the Olympics.
“Now, taxi drivers and shop keepers are all talking about cycling here in Scotland.”
Jackie believes Hoy has now set the benchmark for Scottish athletes at the Olympics.
And she is calling on the next generation of cyclists to follow his example and continue to raise the sport’s profile.
She said: “I think he has justified himself as an ambassador for the sport.
“His performances will be inspirational for youngsters coming through the pathway programme. Chris and his success have certainly put cycling on the map.”
Also watching Hoy’s remarkable win was 2002 Commonwealth Bronze medallist and Scottish Sprint Coach, Marco Librizzi, who praised silver medallist Kenny for pushing Hoy all the way.
But he believes Hoy just had too much in his locker for the young Englishman.
He said: “Jason’s a good competitor and Chris had to have his wits about him, but he just had more power.
“They cancelled his event, the Kilo and all the training from that, he’s just transferred to the Sprint and the Kierin and he has been phenomenal at it.”
Hoy’s success took Team GB’s gold medal tally to 15 after fellow British cyclist, Victoria Pendleton, claimed victory in the Women’s Individual Sprint over Australian Anna Mears.