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Sir Chris Hoy provokes online ire of some Scottish nationalists with independent Scottish Olympic team comments

Daily Mail outraged by Twitter abuse for cycling knight following remarks on potential sporting implications of Scottish independence

Sir Chris Hoy has found himself embroiled in a row with Scottish Nationalist supporters - one of whom branded him a "bigot" according to the Daily Mail following remarks he made in an interview with BBC Radio 5Live earlier this week when he suggested that Scottish athletes might find it more difficult to compete on the global stage were the country to become independent.

Following last year's Olympics it was rumoured that the Scottish Labour Party wanted Hoy to be one of the faces of the anti-Independence campaign in next year's referendum, Hoy says he was also approached by the pro-independence campaign. However Team GB's most successful ever Olympic athlete has steadfastly refused to become involved or offer any opinion on what he described as the "hornets next" although he has apparently made up his mind on which way he will vote.

Questioned by the BBC on the likely sporting implications were Scotland to become an independent country Sir Chris had this to say - firstly on the prospects for a Scottish team at the Olympics:

"You look at the results of the Scottish athletes and teams over the years and we have had some fantastic results.

"But it is not quite as simple as having X-amount of medals last time so we can translate that to this amount next time."

Sir Chris Hoy continued: "Most of the athletes have had to move to facilities which are often outside of Scotland. I had to move to Manchester to go to the Velodrome.

"You look at Andy Murray and he spent most of his time in Spain and Miami.

"The first thing you have to do is provide the coaching and infrastructure for the athletes. It is not to say it is impossible. It is just a different challenge."

That such mild comments from a highly regarded athlete have attracted  vitriol is an early indication of the levels of heat likely to be generated when next year's referendum campaign gets underway in earnest. However it has also got to be said that the examples produced by the Daily Mail, which broke the story of the "outrage" all of the comments were from social media sites such as Twitter on which abuse and vitriol on any subject or personality can be found on tap - it also has to be pointed out that the Mail has a vested interest in smearing the pro-independence cause.

While the content of Sir Chris's remarks in the BBC interview is even handed, in cycling at least the irony is that a junior Hoy coming along in an independent Scotland would probably have better access to world class facilities than his counterpart in England - thanks to the efforts of Sir Chris. Scotland has a state of the art world class velodrome, named after Sir Chris, in Glasgow and he has given his support to plans for a new outdoor velodrome in Edinburgh.

It probably is worth pointing out that when it comes to coaching and training Cycling Scotland has also significantly upped its game by the simple expedient of hiring talent from the British Cycling set up, including its new performance director, Gary Coltman who was the manager of  British Cycling's Olympic talent team. Tennis fans would also no doubt point out that while Andy Murray had to go and train abroad, so would any potential tennis star from any other part of Britain.

(Some quotes in this story come from transcripts posted on the BBC's Sportsday Live service during and after Tuesday's interview)'s founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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step-hent | 10 years ago

This is hilarious. Just shows how over the top some people can get about any political subject.

One thing to point out though - from what I can see, Scotland has one world class velodrome, in Glasgow. England has Manchester, but presumably will also have London too, once the Olympic velodrome re-opens. And if you count England and Wales together (since Wales will remain part of GB for the time being, anyway) there is Newport as well. Not sure that Scotland would therefore be considered to have the better facilities for the next Hoy.

mad_scot_rider | 10 years ago

No surprise there then - not as if the Daily Fail has form for either lazy or just plain misleading reporting

And by the way - I'm a Scot, I'm a nationalist and I suspect chris might just be right - seems fairly obvious logic to me

FMOAB | 10 years ago

If you were familiar with the cyber-nats none of this would be a surprise. Chris Hoy was his usual diplomatic self, but these characters are fundamentalists who seem to lurk in every online corner waiting to attack anyone who they feel questions their doctrine.

Sir Chris is unquestionably a hugely talented individual who seems to think that he wouldn't have realised his full potential without the setup at Manchester. Would the cyber-nats attack Andy Murray for praising the Spanish tennis academy system and saying he needed that level of competition to drive him forward, I doubt it very much.

Looks like it's going to be a long haul to the referendum if this is the level of debate we can expect.

offshore_dave replied to FMOAB | 10 years ago

Just a little bit disengenous, FMOAB.

Twitter, to me, is just white noise and brain farts and is best ignored.

There are some good posts above and, much as I am a cycling and Chris Hoy fan, there are more important things to consider in life, particularly in respect to the Referendum.

I have been to the Chris Hoy Velodrome and it is fantastic. However, if we want more investment in sport in Scotland then I definitely feel that there will be more likelihood of it happening under an Independent Scottish Government based in Edinburgh than a budget cutting one based in Westminster.

Frankly, what colour of vest a Scottish athlete wears at the Olympic or Commonwealth Games doesn't matter to me one little bit.

BTW, it seems like the 'traitor' tag attached to Sir Chris didn't come from a nutty 'cybernat'  1

Impartial observers might think that such an event would be a little more newsworthy than some incredibly mild rudeness being directed at Chris Hoy. The worst of the “vile abuse” described by the Mail and others contained such spine-chilling vitriol as the athlete being called a “soft sod”, a “public schoolboy” and a “tosser”. An accusation of “traitor” being reported in many of the papers, meanwhile, appears to have actually come from a Unionist – the Scotsman quotes it in full as:

“Oh dear Chris, you have just went from being a Scottish hero in the eyes of the Bravehearts to being a traitor, how dare you?”

Gennysis | 10 years ago

"Daily Mail outraged". Sums it up. A richer independent Scotland could choose to spend more money on cycling if it wanted. Thats the point of being independent; you get to make your own decisions.

antonio | 10 years ago

I listened to the interview, Sir Chris went out of his way to avoid being political, and to my mind succeeded, yet the political bigots claim him for their own, bigots both sides of the nationalistic divide.

racingcondor | 10 years ago

Sounds like he's right to me. Both sides will suffer.

Smaller talent pool and smaller budgets will mean that what there is is spread too thinly to be as effective as Team GB can manage and since any given team of 5 (for instance) will be weaker the really talented sports stars won't be driven as hard by their training partners.

Scotland has had some outstanding sports people over the years. You'd have to be blind though to think that independence won't make their jobs harder (and has been pointed out, in the bigger picture of independence, who cares. Start by working out how you can run the country).

theclaw | 10 years ago

Good Lord. What a storm in a teacup. WTF does it matter if Chris Hoy makes some factual statements about riding a bike as part of GB or Scotland. He should know. But if people are voting on independence based on riding a bicycle around a velodrome, God help them. Scotland has greater things to worry about than that. If they are better off economically as an independent country, they should go for it. If they aren't, they should vote against. WTF a keirin rider from Edinburgh has to do with unemployment, North Sea Oil or RBS' broken balance sheet is beyond me. The Daily Mail should stick to photos of under-dressed celebs, that's more their thing.

cowspassage | 10 years ago

The prospects of sport stars, while not totally insignificant, should be fairly far down the pecking order of issues when weighing up independence. I have to think anyone giving Hoy abuse for these comments would have to be a troller for the "no" campaign, or else a total idiot.

However, nice to see the Daily Mail getting involved. If one was wavering over the independence vote, a scan of the Mail's pages should be a firm swinger to the "yes" campaign.

jollygoodvelo | 10 years ago

Are the Scots planning on putting as much investment into 'their' national cycling team as British Cycling has? The coaches, the backroom staff, the youth programmes? If so, great. Otherwise they can't expect the same level of success - and to be honest, with 5 million people to pick from instead of BC's 63 million currently, you'd expect less than 10% of the medals anyway...

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