OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Hoy's a hero and hopes are high as Team GB surpass Beijing
By James Toney, Sportsbeat, London 2012
SOMEONE sack the DJ, it seems they've got God Save the Queen stuck on repeat over at the Olympic velodrome.
WHERE NEXT: After sealing his spot in the hearts of millions, Sir Chris Hoy ponders the thought of doing it all over again
Just 16 years ago in Atlanta, British athletes won just one solitary gold medal, ranking them below the sporting superpowers of Kazakhstan, Nigeria and North Korea.
Now it's seen as a disappointment if an hour passes and someone, somewhere hasn't struck up Great Britain’s national anthem and strung out the bunting.
Britain finally eclipsed their Beijing medal haul, which was their best in century, on Tuesday and there are still five days and plenty more medals claims to come.
Sir Chris Hoy continued the winning trend, claiming his second cycling gold with a storming performance in the men's keirin while Laura Trott confirmed her status as the cycling team's rising star to match his achievements with a double gold of her own.
For the fourth straight night, the royals used their connections to grab a prized seat at the hottest ticket in town and Hoy, as befits a proud knight of the realm, gave them an unforgettable command performance.
He thundered those 27 inch thighs harder and faster than ever before as he was roared to victory by a crowd drunk on the emotion of an occasion that will simply never be repeated.
Hoy is now officially Britain's most successful Olympian with six gold medals – and a silver – from four appearances dating back to Sydney.
He was embraced by five-time champion Sir Steve Redgrave just moments before he received his medal, the enormity of the moment seemingly not striking home until the anthem struck up.
"I was just trying to hold it together on the podium," said Hoy.
"I thought about all the days that I’ve doubted it, the races I've lost, the times I haven't had form and moments I believed my career might be over, all those memories came flooding back.
"It's a very raw emotion and the pinnacle of everything you work for, it’s a realisation that you've made a mark in history.
“You try and compose yourself and try and take it all in but it’s just surreal. This is what I always wanted, to win gold in front of my home crowd.”
Hoy has thought about the moment since London was awarded the Games in 2005 and while outwardly it appeared he always had confidence, his admission about his many self-doubts underlined just how hard he has worked.
Keirin racing is not for the faint-hearted, there are thrills and spills and fortune favours the brave – and none are braver in the discipline than Hoy.
"Everybody sees the final polished product and they think we must be super confident and win all the time and it must be easy for us," he added.
“But it’s been anything but, there have been some really tough moments and to get through them all and succeed here is just one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.”
He will now take some time away from the sport as he decides whether to carry on for a final swansong – in the velodrome that will bare his name.
And while tempting to call it quits, the 36-year old reckons he may have two more years in the tank, with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow the ideal place to bring down the curtain.
"I’m 99.9 percent sure I won’t be competing in Rio – how can I top this, it’s phenomenal,” he said.
“Glasgow is another question, if I can keep going to then that would be dream scenario for me but it’s a big ask.
“It’s two years, it’s 35 hours of training a week and all the sacrifices you have to make with your friends and family. “But there couldn't be a bigger draw than your home Commonwealth Games.
“I'll take a few months off the bike completely and then see. The last four years have not been easy, every morning it is harder and harder to get up.
“I'd love to do it but whether it happens or not I don't know. But this is the perfect end to my Olympic career and I can’t put into words just what it means to me."
It was fitting that Hoy provided the final chapter in a storied week for Great Britain’s track cyclists.
Most said they couldn’t match the high watermark of their achievements in Beijing, but they won seven of the ten available golds at the velodrome in a display of dominance that again had the rest of the world shaking their head.
“The Brits had a reputation of being plucky losers but not anymore,” added Hoy.
“In the past it was always tales of woe and an inevitable feeling we’d get beaten.
“But there is now a change of culture, some of the younger athletes in our team have only ever known success. “Being part of a British team now means you are part of a winning team.”
© Sportsbeat 2012