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How Chris Hoy went from the kid on a £5 bike after being inspired by E.T. to six-time Olympic champion as he reveals cancer diagnosis aged 47


Sir Chris Hoy was first inspired to get on his bike aged six when he watched a certain iconic scene in the 1982 film E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.

His first set of wheels cost just £5 and was the beginning of an extraordinary journey to become one of Great Britain’s most decorated and beloved Olympians.

The 47-year-old Scotsman revealed on Friday he is battling cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, which is ‘thankfully going really well.’

‘I currently feel fine – I am continuing to work, ride my bike and live my life as normal,’ Hoy added.

That will be of great relief to the whole nation, who were thrilled for years by Hoy’s mastery of the velodrome track that saw him win six Olympic golds and 11 World Championships.

Sir Chris Hoy, the six-time Olympic gold medallist, has revealed he has cancer at the age of 47

Sir Chris Hoy, the six-time Olympic gold medallist, has revealed he has cancer at the age of 47

Hoy pictured with his wife Sarra, a lawyer. They married in 2010 and have two children

Hoy pictured with his wife Sarra, a lawyer. They married in 2010 and have two children

Hoy raced BMX bikes as a child after his father bought his first bike for just £5

Hoy raced BMX bikes as a child after his father bought his first bike for just £5 

Hoy was inspired to ride a bike after watching the 1982 Steven Spielberg film E.T.

Hoy was inspired to ride a bike after watching the 1982 Steven Spielberg film E.T.

Until Sir Jason Kenny overtook him, Hoy was the most successful British Olympian, having himself eclipsed the great rower Sir Steve Redgrave’s five golds.

In recent years, Hoy has worked as a pundit and commentator on the BBC’s cycling coverage.

It wasn’t so much the cycling across the sky part of Steven Spielberg’s film that captivated the young Hoy but the cool BMX bikes involved.

‘When they get chased by the police and they’re doing jumps and skidding around corners. It was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen. I wanted to do that,’ he told The Guardian in 2020.

While the £110 Raleigh BMX bike he dreamed of was a bit out of his parents’ price bracket, his dad bought a £5 bike from a jumble sale, stripped it down, spray painted it black and added some BMX stickers.

Within just a few years, Hoy was the second-best BMX racer in Britain and ninth in the whole world.

Another eureka moment came when Scottish sprinter Eddie Alexander won bronze on the track in the 1986 Commonwealth Games held in his hometown of Edinburgh.

While the sporty Hoy played rugby at school and even represented the Scottish Junior Rowing Team, cycling had his heart.

The Scotsman, 47, shared this post announcing the news to his 57,300 followers on Instagram

The Scotsman, 47, shared this post announcing the news to his 57,300 followers on Instagram

It quickly became clear Hoy was a talented bike racer as he grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland

It quickly became clear Hoy was a talented bike racer as he grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland

Within just a few years, Hoy was the second-best BMX racer in Britain and ninth in the world.

Within just a few years, Hoy was the second-best BMX racer in Britain and ninth in the world.

Joining his first cycling club, Dunedin CC, aged 14 in 1990, he switched focus from BMX racing to the track and was quickly talent-spotted as a future medal prospect.

Track sprint cycling requires explosive leg strength, stamina and tactical acumen when following in the slipstream of team-mates.

It quickly became clear Hoy was exceptional at all elements. He took silver in the team sprint at the 1999 Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin and also finished second in the Sydney Olympics a year later.

British cycling was about to ride the crest of a wave with Hoy, Kenny, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish dominating on the track and the road, making it the coolest of pastimes.

At the 2004 Athens Olympics, bearing scars on his arms and legs from a crash in the athletes’ village a few days before his event, Hoy smashed the world and Olympic 1km time trial record to win gold.

When his specialist event, the Kilo, was removed from the Olympic programme fro 2008 in Beijing, Hoy switched to the Keirin, where riders follow a small Derny motorbike for 5.5 laps before a mad sprint for the final 2.5.

Sir Chris poses with his three Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Sir Chris poses with his three Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

The Olympic legend hugs his mother Carol after winning gold in the individual sprint during the Beijing Olympics in 2008

The Olympic legend hugs his mother Carol after winning gold in the individual sprint during the Beijing Olympics in 2008

Hoy poses with the Knighthood he received from the Prince of Wales in 2009

Hoy poses with the Knighthood he received from the Prince of Wales in 2009

The Scotsman poses alongside his mother Carol Hoy at Buckingham Palace after he was knighted and she received an MBE

The Scotsman poses alongside his mother Carol Hoy at Buckingham Palace after he was knighted and she received an MBE

Not only did Hoy win gold in the Keirin, he completed a stunning hat-trick by winning the Sprint and Team Sprint too, showing his all-round prowess.

At the 2012 London Games Hoy was chosen as Team GB’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony before going on to win team sprint goal alongside Kenny and Philip Hindes.

That equalled Redgrave’s gold medal record and victory in the Keirin a few days later took him past it.

It was sealed with a congratulatory hug from Redgrave and a kiss from wife Sarra, a lawyer from Edinburgh whom he married in Edinburgh in 2010.

‘I can’t put into words what it means to me. It’s one of the greatest feelings I have ever had,’ an emotional Hoy told the BBC afterwards.

Unable to imagine how he could top that moment, Hoy retired from cycling the following year.

Sir Chris leads Team GB into the London Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony in 2012

Sir Chris leads Team GB into the London Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony in 2012

Sir Chris celebrates during the medal ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games

Sir Chris celebrates during the medal ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games

Hoy celebrates victory in the Keirin final at the 2012 London Olympics, his sixth gold

Hoy celebrates victory in the Keirin final at the 2012 London Olympics, his sixth gold

He moved into motorsport, competing in the British GT Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hour.

Hoy has since immersed himself in charity work, written children’s books and looked after son Callum, nine, and daughter Chloe, six.

Taking to social media, he shared the shock news and revealed he was diagnosed with cancer last year. 

His full statement on Instagram read: ‘I have a bit of news. Last year I was diagnosed with cancer, which came as a huge shock, having had no symptoms up to that point.

‘I’m currently receiving treatment including chemotherapy, which thankfully is going really well. I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to all the medical professionals for their amazing help and care.

The Olympian pictured with his wife at an event in Monte Carlo in 2017

The Olympian pictured with his wife at an event in Monte Carlo in 2017

‘For the sake of my young family, I had hoped to keep this information private but regrettably our hand has been forced. While I’m thankful for any support, I’d like to deal with this privately.

‘My heart goes out to the many others who are also going through similar challenges right now. I’m optimistic, positive and surrounded by love for which I’m truly grateful.

‘As you might imagine, the last few months have been incredibly difficult. However, I currently feel fine – I am continuing to work, ride my bike and live my life as normal.

‘It’s an exciting year of work ahead, not least the Paris Olympics in July. I can’t wait to get stuck in, have fun and share it with you all.’



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