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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.

Audley Harrison to fight Deontay Wilder on April 27 in Sheffield

Harrison confirms showdown with American Wilder on Khan undercard in Sheffield

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

18:51 GMT, 25 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:01 GMT, 25 March 2013

Audley Harrison has agreed to fight American heavyweight hope Deontay Wilder on April 27 in Sheffield.

The 41-year-old bounced back from a brutal defeat to David Price by winning Prizefighter for a second time last month.

But Wilder will prove to be an altogether different proposition having stopped every one of his 27 opponents to date.

A-Force: Audley Harrison will be back in action for the first time since winning Prizefighter in February

A-Force: Audley Harrison will be back in action for the first time since winning Prizefighter in February

Big stage: Deontay Wilder (right) was on the undercard of Amir Khan's win against Carlos Molina in December

Big stage: Deontay Wilder (right) was on the undercard of Amir Khan's win against Carlos Molina in December

Harrison confirmed on Twitter that he has accepted the fight at five weeks notice and expects to be added to the undercard of Amir Khan’s homecoming against Julio Diaz.

Wilder has long been groomed as America’s next world heavyweight champion but has been largely untested since turning professional more than four years ago.

The 27-year-old fought outside of the United States for the first time in January when beating Matthew Greer in Mexico and has never been past the fourth round of a fight.

Hailing from Alabama, he won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing despite having had just 30 amateur fights.

Homecoming: Khan will top the bill in Sheffield when he takes on Julio Diaz

Homecoming: Khan will top the bill in Sheffield when he takes on Julio Diaz

Harrison, meanwhile, still harbours hopes of winning a world title despite his defeats to Price and David Haye.

He earned plaudits for his performances in beating Claus Bertino, Martin Rogan and Derric Rossy at York Hall but will have his work cut out against Wilder.

Indeed, the pair sparred in preparation for Harrison’s fight with Price with the veteran admitting: ‘Deontay Wilder punches like a mule, and he’s fast. I had four weeks of him, and some days he was catching me with clean shots.’

TALE OF THE TAPE

Audley Harrison

Born: London
Age: 41
Height: 6’ 5 1/2”
Weight 234lb
Record 31(23)-6
Nickname: A-Force

Deontay Wilder

Born: Alabama
Age: 27
Height: 6’ 7”
Weight 240lb
Record 27(27)-0
Nickname: The Bronze Bomber

Nigel Levine wins silver medal in 400 metres at the European Indoors championships

Levine wins 400m silver medal in Gothenburg but Meadows misses out

after suffering an achilles injury in September 2011, but had targeted a medal in the event she won in Paris two years ago. The Wigan athlete was only awarded her title two weeks ago after Russia's Yevgeniya Zinurova received a backdated doping ban.

Meadows said: 'I feel a bit silly to say I feel disappointed that I came fourth – it’s an amazing achievement – but I’ve tried to keep my lack of preparation at the back of my head. If I stood on the track thinking that, I probably wouldn’t have even got to the final.

'A medal would have been a bonus and I was good enough to get a medal. I’ve let myself down a little bit tactically but I’m fit and healthy and in one piece and it’s a way forward for the summer.'

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.

Rio Olympics 2016: British athletes followed by Sportsmail

We're on the road to Rio! Meet the seven young British athletes who Sportsmail will follow all the way to the Olympics in 2016

, these seven athletes are aiming to follow in their footsteps.

Sportsmail seven for Rio

1 HARRY BROWN

Sport: Wheelchair basketball

Age: 18

Where are you from

I was born in Halifax in Yorkshire and brought up there as well. I’ve lived there my whole life with my two brothers and the rest of my family.

Tell us about your sport…

I lost my legs to meningitis when I was two years old. When I was eight, my mum got a job in Asda and one of the people at the store played in the local wheelchair basketball team. He started talking about basketball and that’s how it began. I play for the Sheffield Steelers and am part of the Team GB squad.

Who was your hero growing up

In my family my grandad has helped me hugely. He always helps drive me to training and he enjoys watching me play.

Wheels of steel: Basketball player Harry Brown stars for the Sheffield Steelers and Team GB

Wheels of steel: Basketball player Harry Brown stars for the Sheffield Steelers and Team GB

What were you doing during London 2012

I wasn’t playing but me, my mum, my two brothers and my grandad all went down to watch the Paralympics.

What are your hopes and dreams for Rio 2016

I’d definitely like a medal, but I don’t know how high we can go. Realistically I think we could get into the gold medal game.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

When I was little me and my older brother used to collect Buddha statues and it became a tradition to bring back a family Buddha if you’d been away. The biggest one is about twice the size of a basketball — he’s just outside my bedroom.

VIDEO Harry Brown on his Road to Rio 2016

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2 SALLY BROWN

Sport: Paralympic athletics

Age: 17

Where are you from

I live in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, with my mum, dad and little sister. It’s a tiny village in the middle of nowhere.

Tell us about your sport…

I’m a sprinter and I run the 100 metres and 200m in the T46 classification. When I was born, my left arm wasn’t fully developed and has stayed that way. This year I’ve moved up to 400m as well. The ultimate dream for me would be to compete across both the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Sally Brown

Sally Brown

Flying the flag: Spritner Sally Brown has targeted a medal in Rio in three years' time

Who was your hero growing up

When I was younger I ran cross- country so I looked up to Paula Radcliffe. Recently Jess Ennis has become another hero of mine.

What were you doing during London 2012

I competed in the 100m and 200m. I didn’t run as well as I’d hoped to. I was injured and only started running in April. The experience was amazing but really scary.

Previous: Brown competed at the London Olympics in the 100m and 200m

Previous: Brown competed at the London Olympics in the 100m and 200m

What are your hopes and dreams for Rio

I’d definitely like to win a medal. I’ll be 21 and nearing my peak. My aim is to go there and be in the top three for at least one of my events.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

I’m dating Jonnie Peacock (T44 Paralympic gold medallist in the 100 metres). It became official after the Paralympics but we were really good friends before that.

VIDEO Sally Brown on her Road to Rio 2016

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3 CHRIS MEARS

Sport: Diving

Age: 20

Where are you from

I’m from Reading, born and bred. I live with my parents but spend most of my week in Southampton, where I train.

Tell us about your sport…

I’m a diver, specialising in the 3m springboard individual and synchro events. When I was seven my parents were fed up with me trying to do somersaults on the sofa, so they took me to the local pool to take my anger out.

Head over heels: Chris Mears hopes to replicate Tom Daley's achievements on the diving board

Head over heels: Chris Mears hopes to replicate Tom Daley's achievements on the diving board

Head over heels: Chris Mears hopes to replicate Tom Daley's achievements on the diving board

Who was your hero growing up

When I was nine I started training in Southampton and looked up to Pete Waterfield. He’s been an inspiration, getting to be one of the best in the world. It’s great now as he’s my training partner. He’s a good friend — and an old man!

What were you doing during London 2012

I was diving and reached the final. It was the best experience of my life. On my last dive, the board was shaking because the crowd was so loud. I could feel the vibrations and was so scared but I pulled off the best dive of my life. I almost died on an operating table a few years ago from a ruptured spleen so it’s incredible what happened.

In the medals: Mears (right) enjoyed a successful start to the year at the British Gas Diving Championships

In the medals: Mears (right) enjoyed a successful start to the year at the British Gas Diving Championships

What are your hopes and dreams for Rio 2016

It depends on so much but I would really like a medal. I will train hard and hopefully it will be possible.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

I recently posed naked for Gay Times magazine. I’m used to being almost naked the rest of the time so it was no big deal. I’ve had lots of good feedback.

VIDEO Chris Mears on his Road to Rio 2016

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4 ADAM GEMILI

Sport: Athletics

Age: 19

Where are you from

I was born in London but moved to Kent aged two when my sister was born. I’ve been in the same house for 17 years. There are four of us there — me, my mum, dad and sister.

Tell us about your sport…

I run the 100m and 200m and the sprint relay. After being a footballer, I started training full time last January and got quicker as the year went on. At the World Junior Championships in Barcelona I won the gold medal in the 100m.

Adam Gemili

Adam Gemili

Sprint king: Adam Gemili shot to prominence last year and earned a place at the London Olympics

Who was your hero growing up

Michael Owen was the biggest. He was a great player but it was the way he looked after his family. I really respected him.

What were you doing during London 2012

I was competing for Team GB in the 100m and the relay. I reached the London 2012 100m semi-final and missed out on the final by 0.04 seconds. It was the best experience of my life. I competed in a lane next to eventual silver medallist Yohan Blake and I was in a race with Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell.

Brit special: Gemili is poised to be the next sprint sensation from these shores

Brit special: Gemili is poised to be the next sprint sensation from these shores

What are your hopes and dreams for Rio 2016

I want to be up there alongside the world’s best sprinters, running around 9.7sec regularly. If I’m still progressing the way I am, hopefully I’ll win gold.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

I do yoga to help with my flexibility. I started doing it just before the summer and do it twice a week. It helps a lot with peace of mind.

VIDEO Adam Gemili on his Road to Rio 2016

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5 KATARINA JOHNSON-THOMPSON

Sport: Athletics

Age: 20

Where are you from

I spent the first year of my life in the Bahamas because my dad, Ricardo, is Bahamian. My mum, Tracey, is from Liverpool — she was a showgirl and used to dance all around the world — and we moved back when I was one to live with my nan, who ran a pub in the city.

Tell us about your sport…

Mum wanted me to dance so she pushed me — like, literally, when I was in a nappy — into lessons. I was a tomboy though, so I hated it. I then went through a number of different things — football, but they wanted me to be in goal, then keyboard, then ice skating. I didn’t really get into athletics until the summer of 2005 but I loved it. Now I do the heptathlon.

Dressed to impress: Katarina Johnson-Thompson made a promising start to her Olympic career in London

One to watch: Katarina Johnson-Thompson has made an encouraging start to her athletics career

What were you doing during London 2012

I came 15th — I certainly didn’t expect that. I told my nan I would probably come last because I was just happy to be there. I see it as a bonus because in September 2011 I was still having injections in my left knee, my take-off leg for high jump and long jump. They wouldn’t let me jog until November, so my training was really compromised and, at the start of 2012, all of my personal bests added up didn’t meet the Olympic qualifying standard.

Who was your hero growing up

Carolina Kluft. She was the queen of the heptathlon for so long. Also Usain Bolt, because 2008 was the first Olympics I watched.

Best of British: Johnson-Thompson (left) celebrates with Olympic champion Jessica Ennis

What are your dreams and hopes for Rio 2016

It’s always been about Rio for me, but I’m still only going to be 23 in 2016 which, for a heptathlete, is really young. At the 2020 Olympics I’ll be the same age as Jess was when she won in London.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

Everyone always used to think Daley Thompson was my dad. In the European juniors I finished the competition and this girl came up to me and said: ‘My father competed with your father in the Olympics.’ No he didn’t!

VIDEO Katarina Johnson-Thompson on her Road to Rio 2016

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6 REBECCA JAMES
Sport: Cycling

Age: 21

Where are you from

I’m from Abergavenny but have lived in Altrincham since July 2010. My mum and my dad are in Wales with my five brothers and sisters.

Tell us about your sport…

I’m a sprint cyclist. I do the team sprint, the 500m time trial, the individual sprint and the keirin. I started off in year six, then joined the Welsh talent programme at 13. After finishing my A-levels I trained with Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton. The Commonwealth Games in Delhi is my highlight so far, coming up against Anna Meares.

Sprint queen: Rebecca James

Sprint queen: Rebecca James

Who was your hero growing up

I began by following Nicole Cooke and really looked up to her. Then when I got on to the track it was all about Chris Hoy. He is so great to train with and an inspiration.

What were you doing during London 2012

An achilles injury and then appendicitis meant I missed lots of training so didn’t make London 2012. I did go down one day for when Chris won the keirin and I’m glad I did so I could sample the atmosphere.

What are your hopes and dreams for Rio 2016

I want to be stood on top of the podium. I want that feeling having seen everyone else up there. I want to help Jess Varnish get over her heartbreak of missing out on a medal in London too and our form is looking good.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

I love to bake. Every Thursday I bring lots of cake to the velodrome. I’m addicted to The Great British Bake Off. My trademark dish is caramel slices.

VIDEO Rebecca James on her Road to Rio 2016

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7 MAX WHITLOCK

Sport: Gymnastics

Age: 20

Where are you from

I was born in Hemel Hempstead and I still live there now but I train in Basildon in Essex. I live with my parents and I’ve got an older brother Ben who is a landscape gardener.

Brit special: Max Whitlock

Brit special: Max Whitlock

Tell us about your sport…

I’m a gymnast. I started doing it aged seven. When I was nine I was put into a squad and it’s moved on from there. I do all six disciplines but the pommel horse is my best and favourite.

What were you doing during London 2012

I was competing and I won two bronze medals — in the team event and pommel horse. I wasn’t expecting to win anything but to be part of the first British team to win a gymnastics medal in 100 years was amazing. I haven’t really done anything special yet with my medals — they are just on the sofa at home!

Who was your hero growing up

I really didn’t have one. I didn’t even have posters on my walls, nothing. I know that is unusual.

What are your dreams and hope for Rio 2016

Getting there will be tough. There were 15 of us going for five places in London and it will be more now. Assuming I do, I want to get medals in the pommel and all-round.

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

I swam a lot when I was young and had to pick between that and gymanstics when I was nine.

VIDEO Max Whitlock on his Road to Rio 2016

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Lottery

As well as funding the Road to Rio athletes, every week National Lottery players raise over 30 million for arts, heritage, charity, community projects and grass roots sports clubs and facilities. Find out where your money goes at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk

Stewart leaves British athletics under a cloud after coaching Mo Farah to gold

Stewart leaves British athletics under a cloud after coaching Farah to gold

Stewart was described by UKA as ‘a
vital cog in the machinery of British athletics for more than 20 years,
most notably as meeting director for the successful televised series
where Britain has built a reputation for hosting the best meetings in
the world, both indoors and outdoors’.

De Vos said last night: ‘Ian leaves us in great shape to take these events from strength to strength.

‘I’d like to thank him for his work and wish him well in his future career.’

Stewart was one of the world’s leading
distance runners during the late 1960s and mid-1970s. He won a 5,000m
bronze medal at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, adding to the European gold
he had captured three years earlier in Athens.

Tom Daley goes to Mahiki nightclub in week TV programme Splash! is criticised

Daley lets off steam at London nightclub after week in which sofa critics and swimming chiefs slate his new TV show

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

11:12 GMT, 13 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:12 GMT, 13 January 2013

Following a week in which his new TV programme was universally panned and his mum had to step in to defend him from critical British swimming chiefs, Tom Daley might be excused a few drinks.

The Olympic bronze medallist diver, 18, was snapped looking a little worse for wear leaving the Mahiki Club by the back door in central London last night.

He had arrived earlier in the evening looking smart in a light grey blazer, black jeans and t-shirt featuring Big Ben and a London phone box.

Night on the tiles: Tom Daley slips out the back door of the Mahiki club in the small hours

Night on the tiles: Tom Daley slips out the back door of the Mahiki club in the small hours

Tom Daley arrives at Mahiki nightclub

Tom Daley pictured leaving the Mahiki nightclub

Smart: Daley leaves the club in central London after his night out

Daley was clearly letting off some steam after a difficult week in which his new ITV programme Splash!, in which he teaches celebrities how to dive, was slated by TV critics.

And on Monday, British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes expressed concerns that such commercial commitments were taking time away from his training schedule.

Sparkes said: 'Tom is an incredibly talented young man, but he's yet to acheive his full potential and it's only going to get harder to achieve that Olympic gold medal as he gets older.

'You can rest assured the next Chinese diving superstar will not have such distractions from training.

Chief executive of British swimming David Sparkes poses for a photograph after he was awarded an OBE by the Queen during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace

Tom Daley celebrates after winning bronze at the Olympics

Criticism: David Sparkes, the Chief Executive of British Swimming (left), said Daley, seen winning Olympic bronze (right) had got his priorities wrong in presenting the ITV Saturday night show, Splash! (below)

Tom Daley presenting the ITV series Splash!

Tom Daley presenting the ITV series Splash!

'He should look at the example of skaters Torvill and Dean who waited until the end of their competitive careers before doing such programmes.

'I'm concerned Tom is putting the cart before the horse and I've expressed those concerns to his agent.'

It led to a stinging rebuke, published in Sportsmail, from Daley's mum, Debbie, who pointed out that her son had probably kept Mr Sparkes in his job following a poor Olympics overall for British swimmers.

She also argued strongly that Daley had sacrificed a great deal in his preparations for the Olympics, including 18th birthday and A-Level celebrations.

Defence: Tom's mum, Debbie, hit back at the criticism by Sparkes, saying her son probably kept him in a job

Defence: Tom's mum, Debbie, hit back at the criticism by Sparkes, saying her son probably kept him in a job

The model Caprice on the diviing block during the ITV show Splash!

Charlotte Jackson on the driving board during the Splash! show

Making a splash: The ITV Saturday night programme has featured celebrities including Caprice (left) and Charlotte Jackson (right)

Joey Essex prepares to dive from the 10m platform board

Joey Essex dives from the 10m platform

Plunge! Joey Essex dives from the 10 metre platform during the Splash! show

Australian Open 2013: Laura Robson joins Caroline Wozniacki for Stella McCartney adidas promotion

Mirror, mirror… who's the fairest of them all Robson joins Wozniacki and Kirilenko for an unconventional practice Down Under

saw a run of good form for the teenager” class=”blkBorder” />

Hopeful: Robson lost in straight sets to Jelena Jankovic in the first round last year, but 2012 saw a run of good form for the teenager

Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Kirilenko and Laura Robson played tennis in the world's first mirror court for the Adidas by Stella McCartney media launch

Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Kirilenko and Laura Robson played tennis in the world's first mirror court for the Adidas by Stella McCartney media launch

Original: Robson was joined by Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Kirilenko as she played tennis in the world's first mirror court for the Adidas by Stella McCartney media launch

After a brutal first round loss at the hands of Jelena Jankovic last year, the teenager will be keen to prove herself in her tie with France's Benoit Paire.

It should be an evenly matched affair, with Paire ranked only one place below Robson, at 54th.

And the Brit can go into this year's tournament with confidence, having had a sensational 2012 that saw her named WTA Newcomer of the Year.

She reached the Olympic doubles final alongside Andy Murray and took home a silver medal, as well as reaching her first WTA final in Guangzhou.

Sir Clive Woodward: Funding is the oxygen for British success in sports like basketball… dont cut the pipeline

Sir Clive Woodward: Funding is the oxygen for British success in sports like basketball… don’t cut the pipeline

. Several sports – including basketball – have seen their funds slashed.

There is a growing furore over the Olympic sports which have missed out on funding from UK Sport’s 347m pot of gold for the so-called 'Road to Rio'.

Those sports which are deemed not to be ‘podium contenders’ have been left at the starting blocks and pondering their very future and even their existence.

Understandably, administrators, players and fans are angry and frustrated given the very noisy and public commitment to fulfil an Olympic and Paralympic legacy, which was at the core of our successful Bid in 2005 and to Inspire a Generation.

As someone who has worked at the very
heart of elite sport and performance, I have sympathy and support for
these sports, which include basketball, handball and volleyball, which
all attracted massive crowds last summer.

Struggles: Britain's basketball stars will find it difficult to compete on the world stage

Struggles: Britain's basketball stars will find it difficult to compete on the world stage

In terms of potential medal winners at Rio in 2016, those who hold the purse strings probably got it right as judged by their own very strict criteria but we must not develop tunnel vision focused only on the podium.

We must adopt a broader and longer-term vision and aspiration rather than leave ourselves accused of developing an unhealthy lust for medals at all costs, and invest and develop other sports, especially team sports on the back of our Olympic and Paralympic triumph.

It is much more difficult to win medals in team sports compared to individual sports and, traditionally, they do not add many medals to the final medal table because they are not multi-discipline events like rowing, cycling boxing, swimming and athletics. In team sports like basketball you usually only have the men’s team and women’s team.

Road to Rio: The countdown is already on for Britain's trip to Brazil in 2016

Road to Rio: The countdown is already on for Britain's trip to Brazil in 2016

Yet, if you analyse the low cost and highly accessible aspect of most team sports, compared to other sports and those which sit comfortably in our inner communities, it is completely baffling to me, why funding has been completely stopped in this area.

In the wake of London 2012 I had hope our cities would be crammed with courts for kids to play team sports, emulating their heroes and nurturing a love for team sport and the camaraderie and spirit, such sports inspire.

My solution to this currently unacceptable situation is to make a special case for these sports with a completely separate pool of funds made available through a new specially set up division of UK Sport called the 'Olympic Development Sports' providing specific support for sports where existing funds cannot be justified.

Heady times: London 2012 captivated the nation last summer

Heady times: London 2012 captivated the nation last summer

These sports should sign up to a long term business plan, say over 12 years with the aim of qualifying for and winning medals not, just for the next Olympics in 2016 but in 2020 and 2024.

This is investing and building for the future and totally fulfils the Legacy aspiration albeit over a much longer period. These sports should be supported and helped to reach a level where funding can be justified in their own right, and at which stage they will be promoted from the 'Olympic Development Sports' category.

After such a momentous year for sport in Britain, it would be scandalous if these sports did not receive the extra funding they need to continue their exciting journeys and help realise the dreams of thousands of youngsters who simply want to throw a ball into a hoop or push a ball over a net on the sand.

Funding is their oxygen for success. Don’t cut the pipeline.