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Olympic kilometre champion Chris Hoy has signed a petition asking the International Cycling Union the International Olympic Committee to reconsider their decision to drop the men's kilometre and women's 500-metre time trial events from the 2008 Olympic Games in order to accommodate the inclusion of BMX events for men and women.
"Personally, I am devastated as I am already well into the four-year training and competition cycle leading up to Beijing, and to have the goals posts not only moved but essentially pulled out the ground feels like a body blow," said Hoy of the decision, which was announced at the end of last week. Despite the blow, Hoy also said that he is still intending to represent Scotland in the kilo at next year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
"I don't just feel aggrieved from a personal angle, but also what about the future generations of riders who had long term ambitions to one day become Olympic Kilo or 500m TT Champion? All the history and heritage of this event will be lost forever and it will only be a few years before people will have forgotten it altogether. I certainly don't want to be remembered as the last ever Olympic Kilo Champ."
Hoy urged cycling fans to add their names to the petition that can be linked to from the front page of his website.
The Scot is just one of many track stars who have voiced their incredulity and disappointment at the decision. "All federations were invited to make submissions to the UCI and this is certainly the first we've heard that the track time trial events were being targeted for removal from the Games programme," said Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredericks. "I would have to say this is especially disappointing for the women sprinters who now only have one event they can contest at Olympic Games level."
Reigning women's Olympic 500-metre time trial champion and world record holder Anna Meares was another shocked by the decision. "I am very disappointed to put it politely and really mad to be honest," said Meares. "I don't understand their logic. I think they should have looked at other avenues because the time trials are two of the most exciting events on the track.
"Women already have less events at the Olympics and I think women's sprinting will suffer for it. I find it hard to believe all the countries have agreed to this and I'd like an explanation from the UCI as to why they made this choice because as it stands I have no idea why."
The French, too, are deeply unhappy with the news of the kilo's impending departure. "It's an aberration," said 1996 Olympic kilo champion Florian Rousseau. Upcoming French kilo star Francois Pervis, 20, asked in L'Equipe, "What kind of people make these decisions? Perhaps they have never been into a velodrome. It's totally absurd."
Let us know what you think about the decision by mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and don't forget to sign that petition if you want the chance to see Hoy defending his title in Beijing.
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