University honours golden boy of British Olympic cycling

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Sir Chris Hoy, Britain’s most successful Olympian, has been honoured by the university that kickstarted his cycling career.

The six-times Olympic gold medallist was named University of Edinburgh’s alumnus of the year at a ceremony with students, staff and invited guests.

The award is made annually to former Edinburgh students deemed to have made “a significant impact in public life”.

Sir Chris graduated from the university with a BSc in applied sport science in 1999.

Receiving his award, the Edinburgh-born track star paid tribute to the role the university played in making him a top cyclist. “My time spent studying at Edinburgh was a very important stage of my career. Not only was I working to improve my physical abilities, I was actually learning about the principles of what I was doing. On my visit, I was blown away by the facilities now available to the students here,” he said.

“Some athletes follow blindly what their coaches tell them but, for me, it is all about trying to understand what is going on in your body as you cycle and reading the signals that your body is giving out. I have always been interested in the application of science to get every last ounce of effort out of myself.”

Sir Chris was given the award by university principal and vice-chancellor Sir Timothy O’Shea at the ceremony in the institution’s centre for sport and exercise.

One of Sir Chris’s former tutors, Simon Coleman, said: “We have worked closely with the Scottish Cyclists’ Union so we knew that Sir Chris could go right to the top. He was an excellent student and we are very proud of him.”

The honour comes on top of a momentous few weeks for the athlete, who won two gold medals at the 2012 Games, taking his Olympic gold total to six.

Last month he was on the official victory parade of Scotland’s Olympic and Paralympic heroes through the streets of Glasgow. A short time later he was awarded the freedom of his home city. Sir Chris has also been announced as the first official ambassador of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

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