“We knew it would be a big deal being a home Games but it’s beaten all our expectations,” Sir Chris Hoy tells us, just days after becoming GB’s most successful Olympian ever. “It was that day that I went out on the stage in Hyde Park, I said I felt like a rock star – it was like that scene where Robbie Williams starts taking photos of the crowd. There were 40,000 people there!”
Sir Chris is surrounded by family - mum, dad and wife Sarra are all relaxing at the P&G Family Home in London Bridge. Before we sit down, the six-time gold medallist grabs a few minutes to say hello to his dad, who’s been chatting to us about velodromes.
For all the athletes, life has been on hold in the run up to London 2012. “What have I missed most? My wife,” Chris says without hesitation, gesturing to his stunning wife Sarra who’s sitting opposite. “In general it’ll just be nice to have a beer or a glass of wine. It’s not that you’re not allowed to when you’re training but it’s a choice. If you’re beaten and you think you could have worked harder or been more disciplined, then that would be hard to live with. I did everything I could and it seemed to work so now I can have a break and just enjoy.
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“The podium is a blurred memory. I remember just before I got on it and I started to crack and I thought ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to step up here’! I’d seen Felix Sanchez the night before on TV just completely losing it, I couldn’t watch it because it was getting me going!
“I think it’s an emotional time when you realise your Olympic career is coming to an end and it’s the end of an era for you.”
Sir Chris’ journey has been a family affair with his mum becoming a well-known face on our TV screens in the velodrome.
“We haven’t chosen a holiday destination in years - if Chris is doing a world championship, that’s where we go on holiday,” Carol Hoy explains.
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“We will miss it all, even though the Olympics is only every four years, we go and watch Chris in all sorts of championships. David will miss it especially. I mean, I don’t know anything about cycling!”
And a video of her reaction to her son’s last Olympic race immediately went viral, as she hid her face asking other spectators if he’d won.
“I have seen it once and I had no idea I was doing that – I don’t know what to say, it makes me mortified!” she chuckles. “I think that if I don’t shout louder than anyone, he won’t win! And all that carrying on and closing my eyes, I had no idea I’d done it until I saw in on the television.
“But that’s why he’s an Olympian – because I shout! Well, that and the go-faster burgers.”
What’s next for Sir Chris and his family?
Both admit that the Commonweath Games in Glasgow (at none other than the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome) are a possibility, but Sir Chris says he’s taking it easy.
“I hope to continue to Glasgow, whether I can physically do it or not. That would be incredible to have a home Olympics and then a home Commonwealth Games. But I’ve got no idea, I’m just going to enjoy the next couple of months off to have a rest and do stuff that I enjoy and live a normal life for a while.”
And although he’s looking forward to some time off, there’s the small matter of celebrating with Team GB first.
“There’ll be a GB party and then there’s one by the sponsors so there’s loads of time to see people and catch up and that’s the fun bit.
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“We all live in the same block and share the lunch halls. There are always athletes from other sports you meet at different Games and you form good relationships. I met Rebecca Addlington and Keri-anne Payne in Beijing. You keep an eye on their careers between the Games and it’s nice to come back after the four years to catch up.”
Carol agrees, “It’s meant so much to me meeting other Olympic mums who understand what it’s like and what you go through. It was brilliant to be able to meet Paula Radcliffe’s mum, and Jessica Ennis’ and Keri-anne Payne’s this year – all these people who we never usually see in the velodrome.”
Carol Hoy and Sir Chris Hoy were speaking through the P&G Nearest & Dearest programme, a programme designed to support the family and friends of athletes before and during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
At the heart of Team Mum is the video series Raising an Olympian, sponsored by Procter and Gamble, which profiles athletes from across the world, their dedicated efforts to make it to Olympic Games, and the mothers who had tremendous impacts on their lives. Watch the videos on Yahoo! Lifestyle Team Mum.