Sir Chris Hoy flies to Melbourne next month for the UCI track world championships, the sixteenth in his career and his last competitive event before the London Olympics.
If all goes to plan (and last weekend’s world cup suggests it will) it will secure him a place in the team sprint, individual sprint, and keirin at the Games; the three events he won gold in in 2008.
In order to gain selection he will compete in all three events in Melbourne, and look to add to his medal tally that already sets him apart from any other track cyclist in history. To say his medal collection is impressive would be the understatement of the Olympic year.
The Scot has won an incredible 80 medals in international competition: 52 in world cups, 23 in world championships and 5 in Olympic Games (another four if you include the Commonwealth Games).
The medal haul started with a world cup silver in Fiorenzuola d’Arda, Italy, on June 20, 1997. Then 21-years-old, Hoy rode in the team sprint with Craig MacLean and Craig Percival, finishing behind a Polish trio.
In 1999 Hoy won two world cup golds in the team sprint, in Fiorenzuola and Mexico City. It was also the year he took his first world championship medal, a team sprint silver in Berlin. By this point Jason Queally had taken over from Craig Percival in the squad.
Hoy won his first world title in Copenhagen on September 26, 2002, in the kilometre time trial. He beat Arnaud Tournant of France by just one thousandth of a second. Tournant had won the kilo for the previous four years, and was so angered by the narrow defeat that he yanked his medal off as soon as the British national anthem had played and stormed from the podium.
That gold was followed by another in the team sprint the next day as Jamie Staff started his transition from BMX star to fastest man one in the world. Olympic gold arrived two years later in the cauldron of the Athens velodrome, 2004.
As reigning world champion Hoy was the last to go in the kilometre (the last time it was held in the Olympics), and sitting in the track centre had to watch the three riders ahead of him all break the Olympic record.
First Shane Kelly (Aus), then Stefan Nimke (Ger), and finally Arnaud Tournant. The times got faster and faster and Hoy knew he had to ride a personal best in order to win. Hoy’s victory was yet another defeat for Tournant who never did regain his kilo title after that 2002 defeat.
Out of Hoy’s 80 medals, 48 of them are gold, that’s 68%. Of those, 34 are from world cups, 10 from world championships and 4 from Olympics. With Hoy showing no sign of slowing that tally is likely to get closer to 90 by the end of August.
NB: Since this article was printed Sir Chris Hoy won world championships gold in the keirin and bronze in the sprint (Melbourne world track champs, April 2012), followed by Olympic gold in the keirin and team sprint taking his tally up to 84.
London 2012: Hoy wins the keirin to deliver a seventh gold for GB track riders.
London 2012: World records tempered by disqualification for Pendleton and Varnish