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Sir Chris Hoy retires from cycling

A Knight to remember: British cycling's Olympic golden boy Hoy rides off into the sunset after stellar career

: February – Wins sprint and keirin at London World Cup, an event which doubles as the Olympic test event. April – Wins keirin world title in Melbourne. Claims bronze in the sprint after being beaten by Kenny in the semi-final. August 2 – Wins fifth Olympic gold medal in London 2012 men's team sprint bringing him level on golds with Sir Steve Redgrave. August 7 – Wins the men's keirin at London 2012, his second gold of the Games and his sixth Olympic gold medal in total making him Britain's most successful Olympian.

2013: April 15 – Calls a media conference for April 18 in Edinburgh, where he is announces his retirement from competitive cycling.

'The desire to race in Glasgow was there, but when I started training again my body wasn't responding,' said Hoy. 'London took an incredible toll. I squeezed out every drop, really emptied the tank' – and in doing so, he won two gold medals, taking his tally to a record six Olympic golds, one more than Sir Steve Redgrave.

'I didn't want to turn up in Glasgow and not be successful,' Hoy continued. 'I didn't want to spend a year-and-a-half putting Sarra (his wife) and everything else to one side. And I don't want to be there to get a tracksuit and wave to the crowd — I wouldn't enjoy that.'

Although Hoy says there was no epiphany, if he had to pick one moment when his thoughts settled on retirement, it came – paradoxically enough – on a bike ride.

It was last month, towards the end of an eight-week holiday with Sarra, as they toured Asia and Australia.

'We were doing a road trip from Cairns to Adelaide,' says Hoy. 'The car had a roof rack with bikes, of course, and I was riding every day, first thing in the morning but also eating what I wanted and relaxing.

'As we got close to Adelaide, we stopped and I got the bike off and rode the last 100km. It was in the Barossa Valley, through the vineyards. Stunning. And I thought, “Yes, this is more like it.”

'I realised that I was associating the bike with pleasure, rather than the pain of training. It reminded me why I got into the sport in the first place.'

And it beat battering his body into
submission in a velodrome. As Hoy explains: 'People think that if you're
a good cyclist or tennis player or rugby player that you simply get out
of bed and do it.

'But you become good at it because of what you do day
after day, year after year. It's why I know I can't just turn up in
Glasgow and be competitive. Your body eventually says,: “Enough”.'

After London 2012 Hoy said he
desperately wanted to carry on to Glasgow, by which time he will be 38. But what
most didn't know at the time was that his build-up to his fourth
Olympics had been so difficult.

He was struck down with a back injury
just weeks before the Games, forcing him to return early from a
training camp in Germany. Then he mistakenly booked a flight home for
the wrong day, forcing a detour to Glasgow and a long journey for Sarra
to drive from their home in Cheshire to collect him.

Next morning, Hoy was called into the
Manchester Velodrome for a meeting with Dave Brailsford and Shane
Sutton.

'You're not riding the sprint,' Sutton told him. 'And the way
you're going, you're not riding the keirin, either.' Hoy was defending
Olympic champion in both events.

Flying the flag: Sir Chris Hoy of the leads out Great Britain at the 2012 Opening Ceremony

Flying the flag: Sir Chris Hoy of the leads out Great Britain at the 2012 Opening Ceremony

Gold star: Hoy shows off his medal after the Men's Keirin Track Cycling Final last year

Gold star: Hoy shows off his medal after the Men's Keirin Track Cycling Final last year

Pedal to the medal: Hoy during the keirin at the London Games

Pedal to the medal: Hoy during the keirin at the London Games

Victory parade: Hoy (right) and Sarah Storey are interviewed by Helen Skelton (left)

Victory parade: Hoy (right) and Sarah Storey are interviewed by Helen Skelton (left)

Sealed with a kiss: Hoy with his wife Sarra Kemp after winning a gold medal in the Velodrome last year

Sealed with a kiss: Hoy with his wife Sarra Kemp after winning a gold medal in the Velodrome last year

THE FUTURE FOR A KNIGHT RIDER

Sir Chris Hoy says he is looking forward to 'a bit of relaxation and living a more balanced life,' though he will also be working as an ambassador for Glasgow 2014 and Glasgow's Youth Olympics bid in 2018.

He is launching his own 'HOY' bike range at the end of May, and says he will step up his commitment to two main charities, Unicef and the Scottish Association for Mental Health.

Then there is motor racing. He competed in three races in Melbourne recently, finishing third in the series, and will take part in the Radical SR1 Cup, over four weekends from June.

'It's a hobby, not something I necessarily see myself doing to a great level. I love it. It reminds me of my early days racing BMX.'

In the end, making it to London at
all was an achievement. Acting as flag-bearer for Team GB at the Opening
Ceremony was an honour. And winning two gold medals, in the team sprint
and keirin, was a triumph.

'I enjoyed the post-Olympic period
far more than after Beijing,' says Hoy. 'It didn't come as such a shock.
But once I'd had my fill of eating, drinking, going to functions and
not exercising, I was desperate to get back into the routine of
training.

'In the autumn I was back in the gym
and on the track. I went to Perth for a training camp, then raced in
Rotterdam at New Year. But my body wasn't responding as I hoped it
would. It was nothing to panic about but I found when I pushed myself
harder I was nailed.

'I felt fit and healthy but I'm talking
about subtle differences and fractions of a second. Some days I'd wake
up feeling great but it was just little things; getting up in the
morning and really aching from a hard training session the day before.

'I didn't want to go to Glasgow and
not be capable of winning. I would enjoy seeing the event and the crowd
but I can do that better from the sidelines and I hope to have a role
as an ambassador or mentor. I'll certainly be there. But by not
competing it'll allow someone else to come into the team and I won't be
stealing the limelight. It won't be me plus team-mates.'

Hoy says he would like to mentor GB athletes at the Rio Olympics as well, 'If they'll have me.'

On
the eve of going public with his decision, Hoy said he had no doubts.
'I'm not in two minds. I'm content. I can walk away at the top level
without any lingering regrets. I would have loved to have a gold medal
from Glasgow, maybe a kilometre world record as well, but you've got to
realise when the time has come to stop.'

Winning personality: Chris Hoy with the 2008 2008 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year trophy

Winning personality: Chris Hoy with the 2008 2008 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year trophy

Oh what a Knight: Hoy with the Knighthood he received from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2008

Oh what a Knight: Hoy with the Knighthood he received from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2008

Asked what he would miss, Hoy said: 'The team, the banter, the routine. I like routine, turning up at the track and seeing the same guys, and being part of that team and being on a journey together.'

It is a journey that has seen cycling move from the margins to the mainstream, with Hoy arguably the central figure in this sporting revolution.

'When I think of how cycling was when I started and then think where it is now, it's been a hell of a ride,' he said.

And the things he won't miss 'The way you feel in the morning after certain sessions, gym sessions in particular, which leave you with residual soreness for several days,' he said.

'Waking up with that muscle soreness, knowing you've got to do it all again, I'll not miss that.

'But that's a very small price to pay for the highs you get from working hard,' Hoy added. 'People say it's a sacrifice, but it's not a sacrifice. You choose to do it, but it's going to be nice to put something else first for a change and get a bit of balance in my life.'

Hoy said he would continue cycling 'to keep myself fit and fight the beer belly'.

As for the future, Hoy has charity commitments, he is launching a range of bikes and becoming an adviser to the Scottish Rugby Union. He will also act as mentor to the Scottish team at Glasgow 2014, and said he would relish a similar role with Team GB at the Rio Olympics – 'if they'll have me'.

Triple crown: Chris Hoy celebrates winning his third gold medal of the 2008 Olympics in the men's sprint final

Triple crown: Chris Hoy celebrates winning his third gold medal of the 2008 Olympics in the men's sprint final

Golden boy (and girl): Triple gold medallist Chris Hoy (left) and double gGold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington arrive home from Beijing

Golden boy (and girl): Triple gold medallist Chris Hoy (left) and double gGold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington arrive home from Beijing

Modest to the last, he rejected the
label of 'Britain's greatest Olympian'
despite being the only one with six
gold medals – one more than his
own choice as No 1. 'It's subjective,
but I think Sir Steve Redgrave is the
greatest. To keep going for five consecutive
Games and be at the top, to
me that is a far greater achievement
than winning multiple medals at one
games.'

In the end, in equally typical Hoy
fashion, he said he had no doubts
about retirement. 'I'm not in two
minds. I'm content. I can walk away
at the top level without any lingering
regrets. I would have loved to have a
gold medal from Glasgow, but you've
got to realise when the time has come
to stop.'

BOA chairman Lord Coe paid tribute to
Hoy, saying: 'Throughout his remarkable career, Sir Chris Hoy has
exemplified the values that define an Olympic champion. His pursuit of
excellence has been tireless. His respect for opponents, and commitment
to clean competition, has been unwavering.

And his dignity in victory has set
an example that generations of Team GB athletes will strive to emulate.
Chris is an icon and he has earned a revered place among our nation's
greatest sporting heroes.

'His
gold medal triumphs this past summer in London are two of the defining
moments of the Games, and were a source of pride and inspiration for
millions throughout our country.

'We
are grateful that Chris has chosen to continue his association with the
British Olympic Association by serving as a Glasgow 2018 Champion in
its bid to host the Youth Olympic Games.

'As
he transitions now from his unparalleled competitive career and takes
on a series of new and different challenges, we wish Sir Chris the very
best for continued success, and we thank him for his commitment to Team
GB and the Olympic movement.'

LIFE AND TIMES OF SIR CHRIS HOY – IN HIS OWN WORDS

My three favourite memories

'I can't choose three, so can I have
four The first is 1999, the World Championships in Berlin, and our
first medal in the team sprint. I had this feeling of euphoria and
disbelief.

That the three of us [Craig MacLean and Jason Queally were
his teammates] could have a world championship silver medal, seemed
incredible. It was the first British sprint medal since the Reg Harris
era. There was a feeling that there may be possibilities beyond that,
but I remember thinking: if I do nothing else, I can always say I won a
world championship medal. It's weird to think that now.

'The second is winning the kilo at the
2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. My first individual title, and so
close to home. There were so many Scottish folk in the crowd, too. To
beat the Olympic champion [Queally] on home soil was special. I felt I
was stepping out of the shadow of Jason and Craig.

'The third is my gold medal in the kilo
at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. The moment that meant most, and which I
remember most vividly, was when I was waiting to step on to the top step
of the podium and I heard my name followed by “Olympic champion.”

'Then, finally, winning gold in the keirin at London 2012. What an amazing way to finish it off.'

My 3 toughest opponents

Jason Kenny

'Jason, my young British team-mate and
good friend, also became one of my toughest opponents. He never has any
fear. He is never affected by pressure, never intimidated. The way he
stepped into the team in Beijing was amazing.

'He took it in his stride
and never fussed about anything. His attitude always seems to be that he
has nothing to lose. And he is the same in any situation. He also has
an incredible turn of speed and acceleration.'

Arnaud Tournant, France

'He was the one I looked up to when I
started doing the kilo [in 2001]. He had an aura about him, and although
he seemed more human after Sydney, where Jason [Queally] beat him, he
was still the benchmark.

'I never managed to beat his world record but we
had some amazing battles. I beat him by a thousandth of a second in at
the world champs in Copenhagen [2002], then he was second to me at the
worlds in Melbourne and in Athens [both 2004]. He's a big, big
personality, a real showman. A really tough opponent, but off the bike
we became good friends.'

Theo Bos, Holland

'Theo is so classy, he had so much style
and flair, and he was almost unbeatable before 2008. When I beat him in
the quarter finals at the world championships that year it was a
turning point for me.

'Knocking him out in Olympic year, in front of a
home crowd [in Manchester], was massive for me. It was also the
beginning of the end for him. He stopped track racing and now rides on
the road.'

My three non-cycling sporting heroes

Gavin Hastings

'Rugby was my sport in my early teens
and Gavin Hastings, 'Big Gav', was my first sporting hero, before Graeme
Obree. Hastings went to the same school as me [George Watson's College
in Edinburgh. Hoy captained Edinburgh Schools at under-15 level]. He was
a great player and a great Scottish captain. Having since had the
honour of meeting him, he is a lovely guy, too.'

Roger Federer

Federer is one of the guys all sports
people aspire to be like. His longevity, his record, the way he handles
himself. He's not a guy who, if he gets beaten, disappears. He's a
classy player and a classy professional athlete.'

Michael Johnson

'The Usain Bolt of his era. I admired
his approach to training. Listening to him talk about his methodical
approach, and his mindset, it was something I could relate to. And he
was just awesome to watch.

'Even more than the 100 metres with Bolt, the gap
would open up, the race was his, and it was a race for second place. It's a
shame he wasn't in the same era as Bolt because it would have been
great to see them go head-to-head over 200m.

Sir Chris Hoy talks of his historic sixth Olympic gold win

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VIDEO: Watch Hoy win his sixth Olympic gold medal at London 2012

Jennifer Pinches quits British gymnastics

Pinches quits British gymnastics set-up despite impressive showing at Olympics

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UPDATED:

11:34 GMT, 11 September 2012

Olympic gymnast Jennifer Pinches has confirmed she will no longer compete for Great Britain.

The 18-year-old, who was part of the five-strong British women's team at London 2012, confirmed the news on her Twitter account.

The teenager made the announcement following Monday's 'Our Greatest Team' parade in which she took part and ahead of a trip to Ecuador for some travelling and volunteer work.

Exit: Jennifer Pinches will no longer compete for Great Britain

Exit: Jennifer Pinches will no longer compete for Great Britain

Pinches said: 'I will no longer be doing competitive gymnastics in or for Great Britain.

'However, you can't get rid of me that easily! Got some exciting projects lined up soon and next year 😀 #hushhush for now tho.

'I'm sat at the gate ready to board my plane. Excited and happy reflecting on the past few weeks/months and what I've achieved.

'Can't thank all of you enough for encouraging me, supporting me and helping me through everything. Especially my close friends and family and everyone at British Gymnastics #iambg'.

Teamwork: Pinches was part of the British squad at London 2012

Teamwork: Pinches was part of the British squad at London 2012

Pinches qualified to compete for Great Britain at London 2012 with City of Liverpool club-mates Beth Tweddle, Rebecca Tunney and Hannah Whelan, and fifth member Imogen Cairns from Portishead, near Bristol.

They finished sixth in the team final – Britain's best ever result in an Olympic Games.

Pinches is the first of the Team GB gymnastics squad to announce she will no longer compete for Great Britain.

Tweddle, the oldest member of the team at 27, has said that she will wind down her gymnastics career, Whelan and Cairns have not made their decisions public and 15-year-old Tunney is expected to carry on competing.

London 2012 Olympics: GB women finish sixth in team gymnastics as United States claim gold

GB women miss out on medal as United States pip Russia to gymnastics team gold

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UPDATED:

18:14 GMT, 31 July 2012

Great Britain's women achieved their
best Olympic gymnastics team result in the post-war era after they
finished sixth in the team final at the North Greenwich Arena on
Tuesday.

The United States, silver medalists four years ago, won gold ahead of Russia with Romania claiming the bronze medal.

Britain's gymnast Jennifer Pinches performs on the beam

Impressive: Britain's Jennifer Pinches on the beam

Defending champions China were left distraught as they finished fourth by some margin.

Britain's women were unable to match the achievements of their male counterparts who won Olympic team bronze yesterday, but that was never expected against gymnastics powerhouses China, Russia, United States and Romania.

Beth Tweddle, Hannah Whelan, Imogen Cairns, Rebecca Tunney and Jennifer Pinches scored 170.495 to mark their best ever result in post-war Olympic competition, surpassing the seventh place in the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

Jennifer Pinches of Great Britain competes on the balance beam

Britain's only Olympic team medal was won at the 1928 Games with a squad of 12 gymnasts.

The result comes after GB narrowly missed out on a place in the final four years ago in Beijing where they finished ninth.

With three gymnasts competing on each piece of apparatus and all of the scores counting towards the overall total, there was no margin for error.

Great Britain's Beth Tweddle

High point: Great Britain's Beth Tweddle

Britain started on beam, just like in
qualification, with Cairns stepping up first and steadying nerves with a
clean and confident 13.500 routine.

Pinches then tumbled off the
apparatus to score 11.833, before European bronze beam medallist Whelan
put on an assured display to score 13.866.

The United States began on vault,
with world champion McKayla Maroney the pick of the bunch after she hit a
stunning stuck Amanar vault to score 16.233, as the 2008 silver
medallists rocketed into a huge early lead.

Focused: Imogen Cairns on the balance beam

Focused: Imogen Cairns on the balance beam

Britain then moved to the floor in
last place after their shaky start, Pinches putting her woes on the beam
behind her with a clean routine of 14.366.

Whelan's solid routine and Tweddle's
slightly shaky 14.166 interpretation of James Bond theme 'Live and Let
Die' moved them up a place into seventh.

Cairns then opened for Britain on
vault with a clean one-and-a-half twisting leap before Pinches scored
14.833 ahead of Tunney's first appearance in the team final on the
apparatus, scoring 14.866.

Sparkling: Jordyn Wieber on the vault

Sparkling: Jordyn Wieber on the vault

Tweddle's specialist piece of apparatus, the uneven bars, was left until last, just like in qualification.
The 27-year-old competed last as the strongest worker on the apparatus
for Britain, after fellow City of Liverpool gymnasts Whelan and Tunney.

Whelan looked confident with a slight
step on landing to score 14.00 before 15-year-old Tunney hit her
routine to earn 14.766 for her team.

Golden girls: The USA celebrate their gold medal in the women's artistic gymnastics

Golden girls: The USA celebrate their gold medal in the women's artistic gymnastics

Fall out: Russia's Kseniia Afanaseva after falling during her floor exercise

Fall out: Russia's Kseniia Afanaseva after falling during her floor exercise

Three-time world champion Tweddle
then stepped up to the apparatus and nailed her routine with a twisting
double-double finish to save the best until last with a score of 15.833 –
and move Britain up into sixth place ahead of Italy and Japan.

The United States, meanwhile, were
doing battle with Russia for gold, with Aly Raisman's world class floor
routine enough to seal the victory for the 2008 Olympic silver
medallists.

The golden girls: U.S. gymnasts, left to right, Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross raise their hands on the podium during the medal ceremony

The golden girls: (left to right) Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross

Salute: US coach John Geddert leads the celebrations

Salute: US coach John Geddert leads the celebrations

London 2012 Olympics: Beth Tweddle and Louis Smith lead Team GB gymnastics squad

Tweddle and Smith to lead Team GB gymnastics medal charge, but Keatings misses out

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UPDATED:

14:59 GMT, 4 July 2012

Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle will lead the men's and women's artistic gymnastics teams at London 2012, but Daniel Keatings misses out.

Smith, who won bronze on the pommel horse at the Beijing Games four years ago, and three-time world champion Tweddle each head up a five-strong team for the Games, the British Olympic Association (BOA) have announce.

Keatings, the 2010 European pommel horse champion who competed with Smith as the only other male gymnast in the last Olympic Games, is not included while 15-year-old Rebecca Tunney becomes the youngest member of Team GB after being name in the women's team.

Winning team The GB Gymnastics squad has been revealed

Winning team The GB Gymnastics squad has been revealed

The men's team also comprises three-time British champion Daniel Purvis, 2010 European floor champion Kristian Thomas, Commonwealth Games double silver medallist Max Whitlock and 2012 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Sam Oldham.

Vault specialist Ruslan Panteleymonov, who was part of the team which won their first European Gymnastics team gold medal in Montpellier this year, misses out.

The women's team, led by the experienced Tweddle, is made up of Tunney, who was recently crowned British champion in her first year of senior competition, 2012 European beam bronze medallist Hannah Whelan, three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Imogen Cairns and British beam champion Jennifer Pinches.

London 2012 will be the last chance for 27-year-old Tweddle to add an Olympic medal to her impressive record before she retires from the sport.
The seven-time British champion will be competing in her third Olympic Games and admitted it has been a long road since Beijing four years ago.

Tweddle said: 'It is of course a huge honour to be selected to Team GB for the Olympic Games. This is my third Olympics and with it being on home soil it is definitely the most special.

Going for gold: The men's artistic team (from right): Sam Oldham, Daniel Purvis, Louis Smith, Max Whitlock and Kristian Thomas

Going for gold: The men's artistic team (from right): Sam Oldham, Daniel Purvis, Louis Smith, Max Whitlock and Kristian Thomas

'From Beijing to here has been a long journey. After 2008 I wasn't even sure I would carry on but the huge support for London and the enthusiasm of the public has really motivated me.'

Smith, who won Great Britain's first individual gymnastics medal in 100 years when he claimed bronze in Beijing, said: 'It's been such an intense time in the lead up to the announcement with such a strong squad to pick from.

'Now we've got to do the business at the Games, which we're all capable of.

'It's just been a crazy four years since Beijing, for me and especially for gymnastics in this country.

'I'm not sure anyone ever expected such rapid development and it's such a positive thing for everyone involved in the sport.'

The GB rhythmic gymnastics team, who secured their place at the Games following an appeal, was also named today.

Captain Rachel Smith will lead a six-strong team of Louisa Pouli, Francesca Fox, Georgina Cassar, Jade Faulkner and Lynne Hutchison. Francesca Jones will also represent Team GB in the individual rhythmic event.

In trampoline, Kat Driscoll will fill the only spot available for Great Britain.
The British champion earned a place in the women's competition at last year's World Championships in Birmingham, with the men missing out.

Team GB – Gymnastic teams

Men's artistic gymnastics team for
London 2012 (age): Louis Smith (23), Daniel Purvis (21), Kristian Thomas
(23), Max Whitlock (19), Sam Oldham (19).

Women's artistic gymnastics team for
London 2012 (age): Beth Tweddle (27), Rebecca Tunney (15), Hannah Whelan
(20), Imogen Cairns (23), Jennifer Pinches (18).

Rhythmic gymnastics team for London
2012 (age): Rachel Smith (captain, 19), Georgina Cassar (18), Jade
Faulkner (18), Lynne Hutchison (17), Louisa Pouli (22), Francesca Fox
(20).

Individual rhythmic gymnast for 2012: Francesca Jones (21).

Trampoline (age): Katherine Driscoll (26).

Chris Cairns awarded 90k in damages after false match-fixing allegations

Ex-New Zealand skipper Cairns awarded 90k after false allegations of match-fixing

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UPDATED:

10:43 GMT, 26 March 2012

Damages: Cairns has been awarded 90,000

Damages: Cairns has been awarded 90,000

Former New Zealand cricket captain Chris Cairns has won 90,000 in libel damages over an accusation of match-fixing which he said turned his achievements to 'dust'.

The 41-year-old, who notched up the rare double of 200 wickets and 3,000 runs in his 62 Tests, had sued Lalit Modi, ex-chairman of Twenty20 franchise the Indian Premier League (IPL), over an 'unequivocal allegation' on Twitter in January 2010.

He was not at London's High Court for the ruling by Mr Justice Bean, who heard the case without a jury.

The
judge said that Modi had 'singularly failed' to provide any reliable
evidence that Cairns was involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing, or
even that there were strong grounds for suspicion that he was.

He said: 'It is obvious that an allegation that a professional cricketer is a match-fixer goes to the core attributes of his personality and, if true, entirely destroys his reputation for integrity.

Allegation: Cairns was accused of match-fixing

Allegation: Cairns was accused of match-fixing

'The allegation is not as serious as one of involvement in terrorism or sexual offences (to take two examples from recent cases). But it is otherwise as serious an allegation as anyone could make against a professional sportsman.'

Cairns said in a statement: 'Today's
verdict lifts a dark cloud that has been over me for the past two years.
I feel mixed emotions.

'Firstly, sadness that I should ever
have had to put myself, my friends and my family through this because of
one man's misdirected allegations.

'But I also feel great joy because my
past career has come through unscathed and remains intact and because I
had the courage to stand up in the highest court to defend my name.'

He added: 'Lastly, I feel great relief that I am able to walk into any cricket ground in the world with my head held high.'

The judge granted Modi permission to
appeal over the amount of damages but refused permission on the
question of liability, although Modi's lawyers are set to pursue that
application with the Court of Appeal direct.

He also ordered Modi to pay 400,000 on account of costs to Cairns' solicitors within 28 days.

The judge heard that Modi's tweet was picked up by cricket website Cricinfo. When Cairns complained, Cricinfo withdrew its report, paid damages and apologised – but Modi declined to apologise and pleaded justification, maintaining that the charge was true.

Cairns's case was that it was 'wholly untrue' and a very grave libel which could destroy all he had achieved over a distinguished 20-year career.

In evidence, he said: 'The defendant's allegations have also had a profound effect on my personal and private life.

'It put a strain on my marriage. It hurts that my wife may think that I am not the man she thought I was.

'It hurts me too that friends, many of whom are former cricketing foes, will question my integrity as a man and a sportsman and that all I achieved in the great game of cricket is dust.'

In 2007 and 2008, Cairns captained the Chandigarh Lions in three competitions in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), which flourished briefly before the ascendancy of the IPL.

The allegation made by Modi related to the second and third of these competitions, between March and April 2008 and October and November that year.

Chris Cairns launches first Twitter libel case over match-fixing slur

Cricket legend Cairns launches first Twitter libel case over match-fixing slur

Former New Zealand cricket captain
Chris Cairns asked the High Court for substantial libel damages over an
accusation of match-fixing which had turned his achievements to 'dust'.

Cairns, 41, who notched up the rare
double of 200 wickets and 3,000 runs in his 62 Tests, is suing Lalit
Modi, ex-chairman of Twenty20 franchise the Indian Premier League (IPL)
over an 'unequivocal allegation' on Twitter.

Cricket star: Chris Cairns of New Zealand waves to the crowd as he leaves the pitch during the Twenty20 International match between New Zealand and the West Indies in 2006

Test star: Chris Cairns notched up 200 wickets and 3,000 runs

His counsel, Andrew Caldecott QC, told Mr Justice Bean, who is hearing the case in London without a jury, that Modi's January 2010 tweet was picked up by cricket website Cricinfo.

When Cairns complained, Cricinfo withdrew their report, paid damages and apologised – but Modi declined to apologise and pleaded justification, maintaining that the charge was true.

Cairns's case was that the allegation was 'wholly untrue' and a very grave libel which would – if uncorrected – destroy all he had achieved over a distinguished 20-year career.

In evidence, he said: 'The defendant's allegations have also had a profound effect on my personal and private life. It put a strain on my marriage. It hurts that my wife may think that I am not the man she thought I was.

'It hurts me too that friends, many of whom are former cricketing foes, will question my integrity as a man and a sportsman and that all I achieved in the great game of cricket is dust.'

Claim: New Zealand Cricketer Chris Cairns

Tweet: Lalit Modi, a former Commissioner of Indian Premier League cricket

Legal battle: Cairns (left) and Lalit Modi (right)

Mr Caldecott said that all-rounder Cairns, who lived in England as a child when his father Lance played here, and had himself played seven seasons for Nottinghamshire, had considerable affection for the UK and minded about his reputation here.

At the time of the tweet, Modi was one of the most powerful men in the cricket world and any statement of his was likely to be treated as soundly-based.

Counsel said that, in 2007 and 2008, Cairns captained the Chandigarh Lions in three competitions in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), which flourished briefly before the ascendancy of the IPL.

The allegation made by Modi related to the second and third of these competitions, between March and April 2008 and October and November that year.

Mr Caldecott said that, in October 2008, Cairns was called to an ICL directors meeting in a hotel room where, according to the cricketer, his denial of rumours of his alleged involvement in match-fixing appeared to be accepted.

Upset: Cairns felt match-fixing claims had turned his achievements to 'dust'

Upset: Cairns felt match-fixing claims had turned his achievements to 'dust'

'No specific charges of match-fixing were ever put to Mr Cairns. No names of any accusers were mentioned.

'He was never informed after his departure that statements had been taken – mainly later – from Indian players alleging corrupt activity by various players including him.'

Counsel said that Cairns was then effectively suspended for not declaring an ankle injury which had been exacerbated by a 1,000-kilometre charity walk completed in memory of his late sister.

He returned to New Zealand for an operation, was never contacted with any complaint and, in 2009, was entered for the IPL auction.

Mr Caldecott said that the initial publication of Modi's tweet in the jurisdiction was up to 95 people while the initial publication of the Cricinfo article was between 450 and 1,500.

'Of course these receivers are bound to be cricket fans – it's the classic kind of allegation which runs and runs – one fan to another to another – match-fixing is a subject which is always topical.

'Be in no doubt that to everyone who hears it – Mr Cairns's entire career is tainted.'

He told the judge: 'Preserving the integrity of any sport depends as much on vindicating the falsely accused as it does on convicting the guilty.'

The hearing, which is estimated to last two weeks, continues.