Top day today. Spent half an hour or so in the company of Sir Chris Hoy at the Manchester Velodrome. What a thoroughly top bloke! He appeared relaxed, looked fit as a fiddle, every ounce the sportsman! The opportunity presented itself courtesy of Jaguar and their "Manchester Celebrates Jaguar" initiative during May. I got to sit right next to him and fire off some of the questions that I'd pre-prepared, here are the answers he gave which I've tried to remember as accurately as I can: -
Q. You are only 1 of 2 people to go under one minute for the kilo on your record attempt in Bolivia. Any unfinished business with this record? - A - (Smiles) " There is a new indoor Velodrome at altitude in Mexico and it would be nice to break the record before I retire. I came within 1/5000th of a second to breaking it previously (he held up two pens and put them side by side to demonstrate the distance that represented) and I know that I have the power to do it. It's clear that some riders are breaking lots of PB's on this new track, so if it's going to happen anywhere, it's most likely going to be there."
Q. What are the "known unknowns" for London 2012? A - "The thing about sport is that it constantly throws up new variables in technology and fitness training. We don't show off our latest stuff at the World Championships or in training, we keep it for the big day. Other teams do too, so it remains a big guessing game, right up until the event. That's what makes sport so interesting"
Q. In the Palma 2007 World Championships the Australian coach was quoted as saying "We've had a righteous kick up the arse." How do you feel the Australians have reacted to that subsequently? - "We have to remember that in the recent World Championships we won all the medals in the key events which will appear at the Olympics. The aussies were winning medals primarily in the races we aren't training for, so this can give a bit of a false impression. Everything is going well in our training camps and things are on track for 2012."
Q. What role has Chris Boardmans "secret squirrel" technology had in your performance as an athlete? Cycling is a sport which goes hand in hand with an athletes individual capability combined with advancements in bike technology - A "Clearly it plays a part and we continue to focus on ways to reduce drag. At the minute, a lot of time and money is focussed on the clothing, rather than the bike. When you have a limited budget, you can't spend on everything, so have to focus on the elements which may deliver the highest returns."
Following the Q&A, we had some pictures with Chris and he also signed British Cycling caps for everyone. I also managed to get my auto-biography signed and the front of a box of Bran Flakes, which my son and I had doctored to say "Fan Flakes" on the box. He saw the funny side of that.
Sir Chris Hoy is undoubtedly one of the finest Olympians in history, it was a pleasure to spend some time with him. He was engaging, thoughtful and informative and in the short time he had, was very attentive with us. One thing I did learn is that he does his road cycling around the B roads of Cheshire, so look out for him on a Dolan bike!
Finally, I asked him about his Twitter usage, he is on Twitter, but doesn't really update. He told me that this is all being sorted out and he'll be launching a new website and social media presence in the very near future, watch this space.