Sir Chris Hoy has been named Britain’s favourite Olympian in a poll released less than a fortnight before the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – but Sir Bradley Wiggins, the only other British athlete in any sport who can match the Scot’s total of seven medals, was off the podium in eighth place.
The poll of 2,000 people was commissioned by Team GB Olympic outfitters, Simon Jersey, reports Herald Scotland.
Hoy, who has six gold medals compared to Wiggins’ four, beat one of his own sporting heroes, five-time Olympic champion rower Sir Steve Redgrave into second place, with decathlete Daley Thompson third.
London 2012 double gold medal-winning runner Mo Farah was fourth, followed by reigning Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennnis-Hill, two-time Olympic champion athlete Dame Kelly Holmes, then – perhaps surprisingly – tennis star Andy Murray, winner of the men’s singles four years ago.
After Wiggins, the top 10 was rounded off by two middle distance runners – Seb Coe, who also chaired the organising committee for London 2012, and Sir Roger Bannister, although the latter, who in 1954 was the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, never won an Olympic medal.
“It’s true that Chris Hoy has one of the most successful careers in British sporting history,” said a spokesman for Simon Jersey.
“He’s the most decorated of all, so we aren’t surprised that he’s been voted the greatest British Olympian of all time above so many other famous names.”
“And many will remember Sir Steve Redgrave winning his fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal which has earned him his runner-up spot.
“With the 2016 Olympics in Rio just around the corner, many will be looking forward to the same excitement with both new and familiar Olympic faces on our televisions.”
Missing from the poll however is one of the country’s most successful ever Olympians, Jason Kenny, who has three gold medals, two of those riding alongside Hoy in the team sprint at Beijing and London and who will be looking to add to his tally in Rio.
Hoy himself said that he was confident Team GB’s track cyclists would win medals in Rio despite the turmoil caused by the resignation of technical director Shane Sutton earlier this year in the wake of allegations of discrimination and bullying.
“We are unlikely to match the medals tally from Beijing or London on the track, but it is not impossible,” said Hoy, quoted by the Aberdeen Evening Express.
“To win 70 per cent of gold medals from 10 track events is almost unheard of – nobody else has done anything close to that – and it was all down to the team’s hard work and preparation and meticulous planning.
“But I think this team will also do really well. I think we will be the top track cycling nation once again with at least four gold medals and maybe five.
“It is exciting to think what could happen if we start off on the right foot,” he added.
“When we won gold in the team sprint on the first night in Beijing it had a significant impact on the whole team and that could happen again in Rio.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.