I was thrilled that Chris Hoy won the sports personality of the year award last night, for lots of reasons. Partly because I’m a cycling fan, and it’s about time (Nicole Cooke should have won it a couple of years ago, and this year her achievement in becoming the first rider ever to win both the World Road Race and the Olympic Gold in the same year got completely lost in the BBC’s ‘Olympics’ narrative).
Partly because it might have been Lewis Hamilton otherwise: I know he’s the youngest ever winner of the world championship, but Formula 1 isn’t a real sport – if you take Hamilton and Massa out of their ultra-competitive McLarens and Ferraris and stick them into the other team’s cars, they won’t win any more.
Partly because Hoy’s achievement – three track golds – was world class, and he’d been winning at World Cup events through the year as well.
Partly because the discipline he won his gold medal in at Athens was scrapped, and he had to reinvent himself as a competitor in new events, including the tricky keirin. Partly because he seems, at least off the track, to lack ego (the other GB cyclists all say how much he gives to the team as a a whole).
And partly for the excuse to reprint this great quote from the Olympics, which kind of sums up the last point:
Asked, “What does Chris Hoy think of Chris Hoy?”, he replied, “Chris Hoy thinks that the day Chris Hoy refers to Chris Hoy in the third person is the day that Chris Hoy disappears up his own arse.”
There’s a good profile from the Times, published during the Olympics.