Chris Hoy is ready to abandon the defence of some of his Olympic titles at the 2012 London Games if it increases his chances of adding to his gold medal collection.
Hoy was one of the stars of the 2008 Games, where he added three gold medals, from the sprint, keirin and team sprint, to the gold he won in the kilometre at the Athens Games in 2004.
Now one short of rowing legend Steve Redgrave’s British record of five gold medals, Hoy admits he took a risk last year in Beijing by competing in three events as he could have ended up with nothing.
London is likely to be the 33-year-old Scot’s Olympic swansong and while he would like to defend all three of his Beijing titles, he will not do so unless he is sure he is on course for another winning treble.
“It’s a risk and something you have to be aware of but I wouldn’t be entering a race unless I had the belief I was going to win it,” Hoy said at a sponsor’s event this week. “It’s still quite a long time to the Olympics and anything can happen.
“At the moment, I plan to go for all three and it would be lovely to defend all three titles, but I wouldn’t risk losing a gold medal for the sake of having three bronzes or three silvers. It’s about winning gold medals and I’d rather have one gold medal than three silvers.”
Alterations to the track programme mean Great Britain’s Victoria Pendleton will have the chance to emulate Hoy’s Beijing treble in London.
Last year Pendleton won the only race in which she was entered, the sprint. But in a bid to ensure gender equality in 2012, cycling chiefs have added a women’s team sprint and keirin to the programme.
“It’s great news for Vicky,” said Hoy. “It’s going to give her the chance to go for three events… It’s something she’s been outspoken about and quite rightly so, to try and get the parity between men and women.”
But the process of levelling up the Olympic programme has, from a British perspective, been negative with both the men’s and women’s individual pursuits scrapped.
Bradley Wiggins and Steven Burke won gold and bronze in the men’s individual pursuit in Beijing, with Rebecca Romero and Wendy Houvenhagel taking gold and silver in the women’s equivalent.
Hoy, who admitted after his Beijing success that the scrapping of the kilometre after Athens had forced him to focus on track’s sprint events, said: “There’s plusses and negatives. I can really empathise with people like Rebecca Romero, Bradley Wiggins, Steven Burke, Wendy Houvenaghel, Olympic medallists in events which aren’t going to be there in two-and-a-half years’ time.
“When my event, the kilo, was dropped from the programme in Beijing it was devastating. More than anything, it’s the timing of it, you don’t get a full Olympic cycle to change your plans and prepare. It’s frustrating for a lot of riders but I think it’s been done for a positive reason and that’s to get parity between men and women.”
© AFP 2009