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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

Olympic medallist Joanna Rowsell is knocked off her bike

Olympic cycling curse strikes again, as golden girl Rowsell is knocked off her bike

By
Peter Scott

PUBLISHED:

22:53 GMT, 6 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:53 GMT, 6 April 2013

Sportsmail's
Joanna Rowsell, who won a gold medal for Britain at the London
Olympics, has been knocked off her bike by a car, the latest of several
British Olympians to have accidents on the road.

Rowsell told her 25,000 Twitter
followers that she been knocked off her bike on Saturday morning, the
first time it had happened to her in 9 years of cycling.

She told said: 'I am OK. No serious injuries, just cuts and bruises. Bike came off worst.'

Golden girl: Joanna Rowsell poses with Olympic gold

Golden girl: Joanna Rowsell poses with Olympic gold

She also thanked her followers for their messages of support.

Rowsell, was part of the team that won pursuit gold at the London Olympics, alongside Laura Trott and Dani King.

Other Olympians have also been knocked off their bikes since the Games.

Sir Bradley Wiggins was hit while training last year, and then coach Shane Sutton was involved in a crash the following day.

Exclusive: As UK Sport"s record 355m investment in British athletes begins, Sportsmail speaks to those who have already seen gold from the…

EXCLUSIVE: As UK Sport's record 355m investment in British athletes begins, Sportsmail speaks to those who have already seen gold from the funding boost

, in which Great Britain won 65 Olympic medals and 120 at the Paralympics and finished third in the medals table in both events, but British sport has aimed high since National Lottery funding was introduced in 1997. It is hard to believe Britain won just one gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Joy: The Olympic Parade which celebrated all the British success during the Olympics and Paralympics

Joy: The Olympic Parade which celebrated all the British success during the Olympics and Paralympics

Glory boys: Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent were the only GB gold medalists in Atlanta

Glory boys: Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent were the only GB gold medalists in Atlanta

Here, some of the athletes who have benefited from UK Sport funding tell Sportsmail exactly what it has meant to them…

Sir Ben Ainslie, 36
Four-time Olympic gold medallist, sailing

‘Trying to become the first nation to better our performance after a home Olympics is a fantastic goal. For me, it shows just how far British sport has come.

‘I’m not thinking about Rio right now because I’m in San Francisco with my America’s Cup team but you never know – it’s still a few years away.

History: Ben Ainslie won a record fourth sailing gold medal after a titanic battle in London

History: Ben Ainslie won a record fourth sailing gold medal after a titanic battle in London

'I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made in my career so far and I’ll definitely be in Brazil in some capacity, even if I’m not racing.

Sir: Ainslee was knighted for his heroics

Sir: Ainslee was knighted for his heroics

‘I started receiving funding in 1997. I went to my first Olympics in 1996 and won a silver medal, but we didn’t do very well as a team. We won just one gold medal – in rowing, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent in the men’s coxless pair. It was a pretty poor performance overall.

‘Then UK Sport funding came in and I think, straight away, you could see a big change in the way we were able to train. We enjoyed a big jump up the medal table in Sydney (from 36th to 10th) and that continued all the way to London.

‘British sport became more
professional, but the rest of the world upped their game as well. When I
started travelling to compete internationally most people were sleeping
in tents or in the back of their cars and trying to hold down jobs as
well as training.

'There
were very few full-time athletes. I think that’ s been the biggest
change: we have always had the passion but we simply didn’t have the
time to train and recover properly.

‘I
was lucky because I was still studying, but I relied on my parents an
awful lot. I’m sure they were very relieved when funding came on, as a
lot of parents must have been.

‘The
medical support has been unbelievable. I had a back injury six months
before London and it really was a difficult time. I had to have surgery
and a lot of physio but the support I received was phenomenal. It made a
huge difference to me and my chances of winning that gold medal.

‘Could I have achieved what I did without funding It’s a difficult one. I was fortunate in that I had success early on and was able to attract commercial sponsors, but I couldn’t have done it without the coaching and medical support there in the background.

'It was about setting up a long-term strategy to win medals and they certainly got the right people and the right strategy to do that.’

Perri Shakes-Drayton, 24. Double European indoor champion, athletics

‘It meant a lot to win two gold medals at the European Indoor Championships (in the 400m and 4 x 400m relay) in Gothenburg. You train to win medals and to be a champion was even better.

'The training that I’ve done and any doubts I may have had have gone away. I can do it and I want more. It gave me that confidence that I am as good as the rest of the girls and I want to maintain it.

Champion: Perri Shakes-Drayton won gold in the Women's 400m at the European Indoor Athletics

Champion: Perri Shakes-Drayton won gold in the Women's 400m at the European Indoor Athletics

‘It meant a lot after the Olympics. I finished on a high and I kept running close to my personal best but it was a disappointment (failing to make the final of the 400m hurdles). But rewards will come. The European titles have put the Games behind me. It’s a good feeling.

‘The 400 metres isn’t my event and hopefully I can transfer that speeds to the hurdles now. I enjoy them – there is a lot more to think about, but I haven’t achieved what I want to do yet over the hurdles.

'I’m not saying “bye” to them yet. Hurdling comes naturally now. I see a hurdle and I know how to attack it.

‘I want to come home with a medal from the World Championships in Moscow in August. I want one and I have to win one. That’s my aim.

Pedigree: The British quarter cruised to victory in the Women 4 x 400m relay

Pedigree: The British quarter cruised to victory in the Women 4 x 400m relay

‘Chris Zah has been my only coach, for the past 11 years. He took me from the grass roots to the world-class athlete I am today. It’s not really common for that to happen, but we’ve grown as a team and learnt together.

‘We’ll stay in Mile End, not move to Loughborough. We’ll stay in that gritty, crusty gym in east London because it’s working for us. It’s a good set up and I’ m not going anywhere for the moment.

‘National Lottery funding just makes life so much easier for me. The money I receive in support helps with training camps – I’m going to Daytona in Florida for a month on April 2.

I don’t take it for granted because it makes life so much more stress-free. All I have to do is worry about getting to training on time and being the athlete that I have to be to achieve my goals.’

Becky James, 21. Double world champion, track cycling.

‘I couldn’t have made my career without Lottery funding, I’ve had it since I was 15 and it’s been a huge support for me. Without it, I couldn’t make a career out of cycling because women get paid differently to men if, say, I was on a road team.

'It gives you such a lift when you first get on the programme and you become part of British Cycling, too. It’s been a great help.

‘I’m sure I wouldn’t be a double World Champion if I had a part-time job. I worked until I left home – I used to work in a kitchen doing all the food prep and washing up, which wasn’t the most glamorous job. Then I did a bit of waitressing and then I worked in a cake shop for two years in Abergavenny – serving coffee and cakes. It probably wasn’t the most productive thing to do for my sport, but it was fun.’

Double: Becky James won two gold medals at the World Cycling Championships in Scotland

Double: Becky James won two gold medals at the World Cycling Championships in Scotland

Funding: UK Sport have been a key part of James' immediate success

Funding: UK Sport have been a key part of James' immediate success

Quillan Isidore, 16, joined UK Sport’s World Class Performance Programme as a Development athlete in November 2012 after winning the Boys Under-16 category at the UCI BMX World Championships in Birmingham last May.

Winner: James with her gold medal in the individual sprint

Winner: James with her gold medal in the individual sprint

‘I always looked up to people in the GB team and wished I could be one of them. It was a dream when I made it onto the Olympic development programme for BMX because there are only five of us: four boys and one girl. It’s really good when we all go away for training – that’s what I want to live my life like but I’m still at school so I have to be patient. But I’m proud to represent the British team and follow in the steps of people like Sir Chris Hoy.

‘I still live at home in south London so I get a set programme to follow from my coach. I’m very dedicated – I never miss training at all. We’re not the richest family so I’m really thankful for the support.

‘You can get pretty bad injuries in
this sport so it’s good to know the back-up is there, too. I’ve been
very lucky so far, but it’s impossible to be injury-free.

'I’m
aiming for the 2020 Olympics but I’ve got 2016 in the back of my mind. I
believe that if I work really hard it can be done. We’re all working
really hard to get up the rankings and try to get GB three spots in Rio.

‘I
do think BMX is becoming more of a recognised sport. I got into it
because my friend just took me to a track in Brixton one day when I was
eight. It only had about five jumps but I just loved the feeling of
getting my front wheel off the ground. I got my first bike for my eighth
birthday and have been hooked ever since.’

UK
Sport, funded by The National Lottery, is supporting Britain’s best
athletes on the #RoadtoRio. Follow their progress @uk_sport

Mo Farah is asked by US presenter LaTonya Norton if he has run before after New Orleans half marathon – VIDEO

VIDEO: Have you run before, Mo US TV presenter asks Olympic hero Farah if New Orleans half marathon was his debut

Olympic champion over 5,000 metres and 10,000m, asked her to repeat the question and then answered tactfully: ‘It’s not my first time. I have done a half marathon before but it’s my first time in New Orleans.’

Sunday’s race was Farah’s second outing over 13.1 miles following his debut in New York in 2011. The Briton will run half the Virgin London Marathon in April and then attempt his first race over 26.2 miles in the capital next year.

VIDEO: Mo Farah is asked an awkward question by a US presenter

Play Video

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…Remember this

No 1: Mo Farah wins gold in the 10,000m at the Olympic Games in London

No 1: Mo Farah wins gold in the 10,000m at the Olympic Games in London

No 2: Farah winning his second Olympic gold in the 5,000m

No 2: Farah winning his second Olympic gold in the 5,000m

Mo-Bolt: Farah and Usain Bolt swap celebrations at London's Olympic Stadium

Mo-Bolt: Farah and Usain Bolt swap celebrations at London's Olympic Stadium

Decorated: LaTonya Norton seemed unaware she was talking to a double Olympic gold medallist

Decorated: LaTonya Norton seemed unaware she was talking to a double Olympic gold medallist

Iconic: Farah performs the 'Mobot' on Team GB's open-top bus tour

Iconic: Farah performs the 'Mobot' on Team GB's open-top bus tour

Track Cycling World Championships: Jason Kenny wins keirin and Simon Yates wins points race

Riding his luck! Kenny wins world keirin title in Minsk after being reinstated into final

By
Matt Mcgeehan, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

18:23 GMT, 22 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 22 February 2013

Three-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny won gold in the men's keirin final on day three of the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk as Great Britain claimed victory in successive events.

After Simon Yates won the men's points race on his senior World Championships debut, Kenny succeeded Sir Chris Hoy as world keirin champion to claim Britain's third gold of the first World Championships on the road to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The 24-year-old from Bolton was second entering the final lap and rounded Maximilian Levy to triumph. The German was second, with Holland's Matthijs Buchli third.

Fortune: Kenny finished fourth in the semi-final but heat winner Francois Pervis was relegated

Fortune: Kenny finished fourth in the semi-final but heat winner Francois Pervis was relegated

It is his second World Championships
title, but first won on the bike after the 2011 sprint crown was awarded
retrospectively when Gregory Bauge was stripped of the prize for an
anti-doping infringement.

Kenny's win came the hard route.

In an event taking place in the
absence of defending world champion and Olympic gold medal winner Hoy,
who is taking a sabbatical as he weighs up his future, Britain were
represented by Kenny and Matt Crampton.

The duo were drawn together in the first heat and fell into the repechage after failing to finish in the first two.

Only one advanced and Kenny did so, eliminating Crampton in the process.

Kenny received a reprieve to advance
to the final after finishing fourth in his semi-final following a photo
finish, with only three progressing.

However, France's Francois Pervis was
relegated by officials for impeding a rider on the inside and the Briton
progressed as the third-placed rider behind Australian duo Andrew
Taylor and Scott Sunderland.

The Lancastrian found his form in the final and won with aplomb.

Meanwhile, Yates marked his senior Track Cycling World Championships debut with a stunning gold in the men's points race.

The 20-year-old from Bury rode maturely and impressively throughout the 160-lap (40-kilometre) event, which features 16 sprints, to claim a sensational victory in an event which could return to the Olympics in 2016.

He accumulated 35 points, to win by one from Eloy Teruel Rovira of Spain, with Russia's Kirill Sveshnikov third on 30 points.

Gold: Britain's Simon Yates celebrates after winning the points race in Minsk

Gold: Britain's Simon Yates celebrates after winning the points race in Minsk

Gold: Britain's Simon Yates celebrates after winning the points race in Minsk

Yates was in contention throughout but made his move late. He raced for one point at the 14th sprint and continued his effort to join the lead group, distancing himself from his rivals.

Five points in the penultimate sprint took Yates to within one point of the lead, held by Spain's Teruel Rovira. The lead group were caught with six-and-a-half laps to go, with Yates' main rivals brought back to the bunch.

But the Briton had the skill and speed to claim third on the final sprint to finish with a world champion's rainbow jersey at the first attempt.

It was a ride which will have left his coach Chris Newton impressed. Newton won bronze in the points race in Beijing in 2008 before the event was dropped from the Olympic programme.

Thomas Stalker will make his boxing debut next month

EXCLUSIVE: Stalker to make professional debut against journeyman Laight

, will make his debut at London's York Hall on February 23rd” class=”blkBorder” />

Professional bow: Former Olympian Thomas Stalker (pictured) who fought at London 2012, will make his debut at London's York Hall on February 23rd

Stalker, 28, will also fight on the undercard of Tony Bellew’s WBC world title eliminator against Isaac Chilemba at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on March 30.

The Sportsmail columist was controversially beaten in the quarter-finals at the London Games last year but previously won European and Commonwealth gold medals.

On turning professional, Stalker said: ‘I feel I am going to be exciting to watch as a professional boxer. I felt it was time for me to turn professional now and see how far I can go. I have done everything I could possibly do as an amateur, bar winning an Olympic medal.

Robbed: Stalker lost a controversial points decision to Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg of Mongolia at the Games

Robbed: Stalker lost a controversial points decision to Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg of Mongolia at the Games

‘Even though I didn’t medal myself, as a team I have captained the most successful amateur boxing team we have ever had and that was a big thing for me.

‘Since the Olympics I haven’t had a goal and I have been a bit depressed, especially seeing the other lads doing all sorts of stuff but now I have that hunger back and to get in that ring and fight is going to be amazing.

‘The one for me is going to be March, boxing a homecoming in Liverpool. It is going to be amazing for me to be boxing in front of all my friends and family in Liverpool and that is when I will really feel like a professional.’

Pedigree: He is, however, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist and World Championships bronze medalist

Pedigree: He is, however, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist and World Championships bronze medalist

Olympic Stadium to host London Grand Prix

Olympic Stadium to host London Grand Prix on anniversary of 2012 opening ceremony… but will Bolt run away from taxman again

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Local hero: Jessica Ennis was one of the stars of London 2012 as she claimed gold in the heptathlon

Mo Farah, who won gold medals in the
10,000 metres and 5,000m at the Olympics, said: 'The atmosphere was
electric during the Games, I'll never forget it, so it's great that the
British fans, and athletes, will get to experience that again so soon
after the Games.'

Athletics tickets were among the most sought after for the Games and heptathlon gold medallist Jessica Ennis hopes the Grand Prix will give people who were unable to buy tickets a chance to see high-class athletics at the stadium.

She said: 'It is brilliant to hear that the British Athletics London GP is going to be held at the Olympic Stadium a year after the Games.

'It will give athletes and fans who did not get to experience the amazing venue the chance to go there, and for those of us who had the most incredible experiences on the track and field, an opportunity to relive a few memories.

'Hopefully I will be there and using the competition as part of my preparation for the World Championships.'

Speedsters: Usain Bolt (left) and his Jamaican team-mates set a new 4x100m world record in London

Speedsters: Usain Bolt (left) and his Jamaican team-mates set a new 4x100m world record in London

Lighting up London: The stadium was also full for the Paralympics last summer

Lighting up London: The stadium was also full for the Paralympics last summer

David Weir hits out at New Year Honours system

Weir having to win more medals to get recognised! Paralympic hero hits out at New Year Honours system after CBE

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UPDATED:

11:31 GMT, 29 December 2012

Six-time gold medallist David Weir has suggested Paralympians have to work harder to earn recognition than their non-disabled counterparts.

Weir has been recognised with a CBE for winning four gold medals at this summer's London Games, but the wheelchair athlete was not among the five sporting dames and knights created.

Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins and British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford have both been knighted, as has sailor Ben Ainslie, with Paralympic cyclist Sarah Storey becoming a dame after taking her gold medal tally to 11 to match Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's record.

Golden boy: David Weir won four events at London 2012

Golden boy: David Weir won four events at London 2012

British rowing performance director David Tanner has also been knighted.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Weir said: 'I am absolutely honoured to receive this award.

'I would have been disappointed if Sarah Storey had not been made a dame because she deserves it with 11 gold medals.

'It's a weird one how they choose it. Sometimes it seems that Paralympians have to win lots and lots of medals to get a damehood or a knighthood.

What a summer: Weir played his part in a brilliant period for British sport

What a summer: Weir played his part in a brilliant period for British sport

'Kelly Holmes was made a dame when she won two gold medals, but it seems we have to get into double figures to get it.

'Sarah Storey should have been awarded this years ago, and I just feel that sometimes we are left out perhaps because we are not in the public eye.

'It is a bit strange, but I am just honoured to get anything from the Queen for doing a sport I love.'

Weir is the only disabled athlete among five CBEs with only two Paralympians receiving OBEs.

Sarah Story named Dame in New Year Honours List

Fairy Storey! Dame Sarah and Weirwolf head list of Paralympic heroes honoured

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UPDATED:

00:02 GMT, 29 December 2012

Sarah Storey won Great Britain's first gold medal of a memorable Paralympic Games and has now completed a stunning 2012 by being named a Dame in the Queen's New Year Honours.

Storey, like David Weir, finished with four gold medals from four events and carried the Union Flag at the closing ceremony along with the wheelchair racer, who has been awarded a CBE.

Scroll down for a full list of Paralympic Honours

Stars: Sarah Storey (above) has been named a Dame while David Weir (below) has been awarded a CBE

Stars: Sarah Storey (above) has been named a Dame while David Weir (below) has been awarded a CBE

David Weir celebrates winning Gold during the Men's 800m - T54 Final

Storey has been honoured for a Paralympic career which began as a 14-year-old swimmer in Barcelona in 1992 and featured four Games in the pool before she switched to the bike ahead of the Beijing Games in 2008.

In London, her sixth Games, the 35-year-old from Disley, Cheshire, took her tally to 11 Paralympic gold medals, equalling former wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's haul.

Storey and Weir were Britain's most prolific winners at the Paralympics as the hosts won 34 gold and 120 medals in all, while the nation marvelled at the athletes' ability, forgetting the impairment of an individual and concentrating on the sport.

'Wow, I am speechless but incredibly honoured and extremely proud to be able to accept the DBE,' said Storey, who recently announced she was pregnant.

Laden: Storey won four golds in London

Laden: Storey won four golds in London

'I never expected any additional awards after my sporting success.

'I love competing for my country and that is a huge honour in itself.

'Now to be a dame is beyond anything I could have ever imagined and I cannot thank my family, friends, coaches and support staff over all the years enough for their devotion in helping me to follow the path of becoming the best athlete I can possibly be.'

Weir won the last home gold of a memorable summer with victory in the marathon on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.

The 33-year-old from Wallington, Surrey, led the athletics team to a series of stirring triumphs, including for amputee sprinter Jonnie Peacock, who won the blue riband event of the Games, the T44 100metres, ahead of the likes of Oscar Pistorius.

Peacock is awarded an MBE, as are fellow athletes Richard Whitehead, Aled Davies, Mickey Bushell, Hannah Cockroft, Aled Davies and Josie Pearson, who all won Paralympic gold to send a capacity 80,000 Olympic Stadium crowd into raptures.

Swimmer Ellie Simmonds was once again the darling of the Games, dealing with the expectation and her image staring down on all entering the Olympic Park from the Westfield Shopping Centre, by taking two titles before her 18th birthday, four years after two wins as a 13-year-old.

Simmonds is awarded an OBE, an honour also bestowed upon Sophie Christiansen, who won three equestrian gold medals in Greenwich.

She said: 'It's been a great honour to be included in the list which caps an amazing year for me personally and for British sport.'

Natasha Baker won two para-equestrian titles and is awarded an MBE along with Christiansen's team-mates in the team championship Deborah Criddle and Sophie Wells.

Ten-time Paralympic champion Lee
Pearson, the fourth member of the winning quartet, did not receive an
honour, having been made an MBE following the 2008 Games.

Sealed with a kiss: Ellie Simmonds (above) and Jonnie Peacock (below) were also among the gold medals

Sealed with a kiss: Ellie Simmonds (above) and Jonnie Peacock (below) were also among the gold medals

Jonnie Peacock

Storey's husband Barney also did not make the list, despite claiming his third Paralympic title in London.

His tandem partner Neil Fachie was awarded an MBE, as was tandem pilot rider Craig MacLean, who won an Olympic medal in Sydney in 2000 and piloted Anthony Kappes to gold in London.
Like Barney Storey, Kappes was not honoured this time around.

Road cyclist David Stone won road race gold at Brands Hatch, but also missed out on a fresh honour, having already been made an MBE.

All other London 2012 gold medal winners were honoured, with boccia player Nigel Murray given an MBE for his long and distinguished career which has featured two Paralympic titles and bronze in London.

PARALYMPIC ATHLETES HONOURED

DAME

Sarah Storey – cycling

CBE

David Weir – athletics

OBE

Sophie Christiansen – equestrian

Ellie Simmonds – swimming

MBE

Jessica-Jane Applegate – athletics
Natasha Baker – equestrian
Danielle Brown – archery
Mickey Bushell – athletics

Hannah Cockroft – athletics
Mark Colbourne – cycling
Josef Craig – swimming
Deborah Criddle – equestrian
Aled Davies – athleticsNeil Fachie – cycling
Jonathan Fox – swimming
Heather Frederiksen – swimming
Oliver Hynd – swimming
Helena Lucas – sailing
Craig MacLean – cycling
Nigel Murray – boccia
Jonnie Peacock – athletics
Josie Pearson – athletics
Pam Relph – rowing
Naomi Riches – rowing
James Roe – rowing
David Smith – rowing
Lily van den Broecke – rowing
Sophie Wells – equestrian
Richard Whitehead – athletics

Best sports pictures of the year – by Sportsmail photographers

Snappy Christmas! Our photographers choose their favourite pictures of the year

PUBLISHED:

18:01 GMT, 25 December 2012

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UPDATED:

18:01 GMT, 25 December 2012

Sportsmail's group of top photographers, Andy Hooper, Kevin Quigley, Ian Hodgson and Graham Chadwick, have thought long and hard about their favourite photos of the year. Enjoy their selections below.

Andy Hooper

Oscar and Anthony: Yes, this really happened. Oscar Pistorius is kneeling down in front of a cheetah in the South African bush near Pretoria. Bladerunner Oscar was as good as gold, maybe a little nervous, but he was happy to crouch for a few seconds, which is all it took to get the shot.

Oscar and Anthony

Mo-mentous: Mo Farah wins his second Olympic gold medal in the 5,000 metres, fighting off attack after attack from the Kenyans and the other Africans. One of my special moments, as Mo kicked on and made the victory look easy!

Mo-mentous

Pure gold: Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking after winning the lightweight double sculls, one of my favourite London 2012 images. It looks close up but they had drifted way past us before celebrating.

Pure gold

Kevin Quigley

Lone rider: All of these were taken using a range of Nikon cameras and lenses and with Mark Cavendish, I shot this in Fairlop in east London, with the backdrop a London sunset. I used one outside studio light positioned to the left of me which lit him up as he came up this slight incline and it’s the favourite shot I’ve taken this year.

Lone Rider

Blue is the colour: Chelsea’s Didier Drogba was running round the Munich pitch with the European Cup when he suddenly sat down in the goalmouth. With a wide-angle lens I captured Didier, the trophy and all of the drama around him.

Blues is the colour

Pure Poults: I stood to the side of the other photographers who were shooting straight on with flash, and as Ian Poulter celebrated with the Ryder Cup at Medinah my camera picked up someone else’s flash to put a nice light on him.

Pure Poults

Graham Chadwick

Zlat’s magic (left): The shirt’s off as Zlatan Ibrahimovic goes wild after his acrobatic fourth goal for Sweden against England in their Stockholm friendly. Just for the perfect execution of his skills, it was unquestionably the best goal that I have seen live. I will remember it for ever.

Joyous: Jade Jones winning gold in the 57kg taekwondo final was simply spine-tingling, especially the second when she jumped up to celebrate with her coach. This image rewarded my long hours spent covering the Games.

Zlat's magic

Joyous

Spinning gold: For American Gabrielle Douglas’s winning beam routine I wanted to create a dramatic stage for her dismount in this image. I used a starburst filter on the lens to accentuate the arena spotlights. I was also lucky to catch a lone flash from someone else’s camera in the crowd.

Spinning gold

Ian Hodgson

City turns blue: On the day Manchester City won the title I moved to the right hand side of the press pen to get a better angle. Streamers were fired into the air but I stayed focused on the trophy to create an almost abstract-style photograph.

City turns blue

One to treasure: I was covering the Open at Lytham and on one of the practice days, Justin Rose had been signing autographs on the tee. A few children had not got his signature but as he reached the green he waved them over. Nice gesture and a lovely picture.

One to treasure

Knight of Old Trafford: I’d photographed Sir Bobby Charlton on many occasions, but to have the time to shoot a portrait with the Manchester United legend one-to-one was something special for me. After setting up my lights (three on this shoot), I shot a variety of pictures, with this one as my favourite.

Knight of Old Trafford