He’s made his living on two wheels, but it was only a trip to the impoverished African state of Malawi that Sir Chris Hoy realised the importance of the bicycle to many around the world.
Sir Chris, now a Unicef UK Ambassador, told the Daily Star he was humbled to see the lives of the people living there.
He said: “My trip was an incredible experience that will stay with me forever, especially meeting all the young kids whose lives have been saved by Unicef.
“All the things we take for granted in the UK, like basic medicine, are not always available in Malawi.
“They often get one meal of porridge a day and have nowhere to play or be kids.”
Sir Chris got to know a young man, Daniel who delivers lifesaving medicines to children living in the remotest parts of the country by bicycle.
He said: “Daniel has to cycle to his remote clinic twice a week and is a lifeline for the local community.
“There’s no proper roads, the bikes often break down, they don’t have gears.”
These bikes, he said, were far harder work than his usual performance machines.
“As we cycled round the corner and saw all the mums and babies queuing up, it dawned on me the responsibility on Daniel’s shoulders – the whole community relies on him to treat their young children.
“I need bikes for work but Daniel’s need for his bike is at a whole other level.
“Daniel’s bike allows him to have a life-changing impact on his community. I found this really humbling.”
The trip came ahead of a text-based fund-raising appeal for Unicef at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this Wednesday.
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After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.