No. 5: Sir Chris Hoy
Last year’s position: 1st
Compared to Hoy’s incredible 2008, it has been a quiet year for the flying Scotsman. It’s a fair question to ask whether a man who missed the World Championships through injury and only competed at the top level during two weeks deserves to be as high as fifth in our chart.
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Well, consider this: Hoy crashed in the final of the Keirin in Copenhagen in February and was forced to miss the World Championships, held in Poland, the following month.
When any rider suffers a bad injury there are always question marks. Will he be able to return to the same incredible peaks again?
Hoy not only returned to form in the autumn, he almost matched his brilliant Beijing best, proving that the injury has done nothing to slow him down.
It was always going to be a tricky year for Hoy, who was in such demand from the media, sponsors and charities following his Olympic Games success. Then there was the knighthood and all the attention that brought.
This, the first year in the build-up to London 2012, was never going to be critical to Hoy’s preparation, but it actually turn out to be pivotal. Crashing and missing the World’s was a blow, a reminder, not that he needed one, that nothing can be taken for granted on the track.
And it meant that when he did come back, he had something to prove to himself. There was an edge to events that may have been seen as merely stepping stones on a bigger journey.
At the National Championships he won the sprint, the Keirin and the team sprint. At the World Cup on the same Manchester track soon afterwards, he completed the same treble.
But these were not run of the mill victories, even if the opposition was not as strong as you’d expect at the Olympics. No, the thing to look at is Hoy’s time for the flying 200 metres. He matched, then lowered the Manchester track record, and his World Cup time of 9.869 seconds was just outside his Beijing time. That really was quite remarkable.
HOY’S 200M TIMELINE
How Chris Hoy has improved in the 200-metre flying time trials which serve as the qualification round for international sprint competitions since January 2007.
JAN 2007 LOS ANGELES WORLD CUP
10.287sec 1st in qualifying
FEB 2007 MANCHESTER WORLD CUP
10.211sec 3rd in qualifying
NOV 2007 SYDNEY WORLD CUP
10.179sec 1st in qualifying
DEC 2007 BEIJING WORLD CUP
10.166sec 5th in qualifying
FEB 2008 COPENHAGEN WORLD CUP
10.234sec 3rd in qualifying
MAR 2008 MANCHESTER WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
10.032sec 4th in qualifying
AUG 2008 BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES
9.815sec 1st in qualifying
OCT 2009 BRITISH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, MANCHESTER
9.990sec 1st in qualifying
NOV 2009 MANCHESTER WORLD CUP
9.869sec 1st in qualifying
2009 MAJOR RESULTS
1st team sprint, Copenhagen World Cup
National sprint champion
National Keirin champion
National team sprint champion
1st sprint, Manchester World Cup
1st Keirin, Manchester World Cup
1st team sprint, Manchester World Cup