British Olympic great Hoy announces retirement

Edinburgh: Olympic great Chris Hoy announced his retirement from cycling with immediate effect on Thursday.

The six-time Olympic champion, Britain`s most successful Olympic competitor, bows out at the age of 37 after a career in which he became the most decorated cyclist in the history of the Games.

"I`m officially announcing my retirement from international cycling," he told a press conference at Murrayfield Stadium in his native Edinburgh.

"It`s a decision which I didn`t take lightly. It`s something I thought about hard with the help of my family and my coaches."

Hoy overtook rower Steve Redgrave as Britain`s most successful Olympian at last year`s Games in London, when he claimed gold medals in the team sprint and the keirin.

He had hoped to continue competing until next year`s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where the cycling event will be held at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, but said he was no longer capable of competing at the highest level.

"I`ve got every last inch of energy and effort out of me," he said.

"I went to London and was successful, but I didn`t realise quite how much London took out of me. To go on for another year would be one year too far. I don`t want to turn up just to wave to fans and get a tracksuit.

"I wanted to compete and get a medal for Scotland, and because I didn`t think I could do that, I wanted someone else to take my place."

Asked to select his career highlight, Hoy singled out his first Olympic gold medal, in the 1km track time-trial in Athens in 2004, and his last, in the keirin at last year`s London Games.

"Athens - stepping onto the podium, hearing my name read out and then hearing `Olympic champion` after it. To me, that was what my career was all about," he said.

"I thought nothing could compare to that but in London, to end my career with my sixth gold medal in the nature of the keirin, was a really special moment.

"But I could go on all day. I`m fortunate I`ve got so many great memories and I`ve had so much fun. I still feel the same. I`m going to cycle for the rest of my life and encourage others to take up the sport."

Hoy is an ambassador for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and has also announced plans to launch his own brand of bicycles.