BRITISH cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy has announced he is to retire from international competition.
The six-time Olympic gold medallist made the announcement at a packed press conference at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield stadium.
Hoy said that the decision had not been taken lightly but he felt that another year of competing would have been too much.
He said: “This is a decision which hasn’t come easily but after discussing it at length with my wife Sarra, my family and my coaches, I am happy that this is the right time.”
The announcement is a blow to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year as Hoy would have been the star attraction, with Scotland hoping he could ride to even more gold medals in the velodrome.
Hoy knew this only too well and added: “Nothing would have given me more pride and pleasure than to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games next year in Glasgow.
“But I feel that it would be a year too far and I wouldn’t be able to perform at a level which would do myself and the team justice.“
However, he said that he had spoken with bosses at Glasgow 2014 about retiring and they had been very supportive and put him under “no pressure” to compete in the games.
Sarra also spoke and backed her husband’s decision saying: “Any decision would have been the right decision.
“If he had wanted to continue it would have been fine, if he had wanted to retire it would also have been fine.”
Looking back over a glittering career, Hoy said that there had been two particular moments that stuck in his mind as highlights.
“Standing on the podium at Athens 2004 and hearing my name announced as Olympic gold medallist could have been the highlight of my career.
“To then go and win five more, and cap my career with a medal at London 2012 was special.”
Over the course of his career, Hoy competed in no fewer than four Olympics, three Commonwealth Games and 16 World Championships and tasted success at every stage and he thanked his coaches and fans for supporting him every step of the way.
After a making the announcement, Hoy said that he would become a Games Ambassador for Glasgow 2014 and the 2018 Youth Olympic Bid, support various charities such as UNICEF and continue to build and design his own range of bikes.
The response to the retirement, which had been widely speculated beforehand, has been unanimous in praising Hoy’s achievements over his 19 year career in the velodrome.
Louise Martin, chair of Sport Scotland, said: “Sir Chris has achieved an unprecedented level of success in sport, yet he has always remained remarkably modest about his incredible achievements.
“He has boosted Scottish sport over a long and glittering career.
“Chris had dearly hoped to compete at Glasgow 2014 but knows only too well how difficult it would have been to sustain the fiercely intense training regime required to succeed at that level.
“We fully back his decision to retire, wish him every success in the future, and, above all, thank him for his immense contribution to Scottish sport.”