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Page last updated at 06:24 GMT, Friday, 16 July 2010 07:24 UK

Sir Chris Hoy pulls out of Commonwealth Games

Sir Chris Hoy

Hoy won his 10th world title in Copenhagen earlier this year

Olympic champion cyclist Sir Chris Hoy has pulled out of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi because it clashes with the European Championships.

The European event will count as a qualifier for London 2012 and Hoy, who has won four Olympic track titles, says that is his primary focus.

The 34-year-old said: "The Olympics has to take precedence over everything."

Cycling's world body (UCI) changed its Olympic qualifying criteria in May with the Delhi Games beginning on 3 October.

The European Championships - an event formerly restricted to riders under the age of 23 - takes place from 5-7 November.

Qualification for the Olympics began after March's World Championships in Copenhagen and will run until the Track World Championships in Melbourne in 2012.

Hoy told The Scotsman newspaper : "It's a decision that's been forced on me by the nature of the qualification process for the London Olympics."

Fellow Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton admitted in June that she was unsure about defending her Commonwealth Games title because of similar concerns over scheduling complications.

I could turn up at the Commonwealth Games in October, but it'd hamper my preparation for the European Championships

Chris Hoy

The UCI also announced there will be one competitor - one rider or one team - per nation, per event in London, something which an irate Pendleton compared to Jamaica choosing between Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell for their athletics team.

Edinburgh-born Hoy had been relishing the opportunity to represent Scotland and recently said: "It is the only chance that we have got to pull on a Scottish jersey and I think that is what makes the Commonwealth Games such a great event.

"Don't get me wrong, I am proud to compete for Britain but I am very proud to compete for Scotland."

But Hoy, who has won a gold medal at each of the last two Commonwealth Games, will now concentrate instead on the European Championships, with the event taking on extra importance due to ICU's new Olympic qualifying criteria.

"I could turn up at the Commonwealth Games in October, but it'd hamper my preparation for the European Championships. And I wouldn't be at 100%," said Hoy.

"The standard at the Commonwealth Games is so high that 95% wouldn't be good enough, and it would be disrespectful to the event and the Scottish team."

British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford warned that more elite cyclists will have to decide between the two events.

"This new European Championship will affect everybody with Olympic ambitions," said Brailsford.


"For most of the top-level guys, including Chris, their main aim is the Olympics - and this is a qualifying event they're going to need to be going really well at."

Brailsford also backed Hoy's decision saying he understood why the Scot had made it.

"We'll support any athlete who wants to prioritise the Europeans over the Commonwealth Games," he said.

"Chris made the decision backed by us. For Chris his whole career is based around the Olympics so it makes sense that he focuses on Olympic point-scoring events.

"We supported him because the priority is the Olympic Games in London."

Hoy is joined in pulling out of the Games in Delhi by British athlete Jessica Ennis.

The 24-year-old said the Games clashed with her winter training programme and she would aim to peak for the European Championships in July.

Commonwealth Games Scotland chairman Michael Cavanagh admitted his disappointment at the news.

"First and foremost we are bitterly disappointed for Chris himself," said Cavanagh.

"He is a fantastic supporter of Team Scotland, competing and winning medals in three Commonwealth Games and he is an inspirational ambassador for Scottish sport.

"Nobody will be more disappointed than him, not to be in Delhi wearing the Scottish jersey.

"He has been placed in a no-win situation by the UCI and British Cycling with their late decision and we fully appreciate that he must meet his Olympic qualification obligations."


Chris Hoy's track cycling basics

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see also
Thomas pulls out of Delhi Games
24 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Cavendish to ride for Isle of Man
06 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Hoy eyes Commonwealth Games ride
29 Jun 10 |  Cycling
Pendleton fear for Commonwealths
17 Jun 10 |  Cycling
Ennis to miss Commonwealth Games
01 Feb 10 |  Athletics
England calm Delhi Games concerns
30 Dec 09 |  Sport Homepage
Chris Hoy's track bike guide
02 Oct 08 |  Get Involved

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Sunday People Sports News: Commonwealth blow for Hoy - 26 hrs ago
Deccan Chronicle Champion cyclist pulls out - 31 hrs ago
Reuters UK Hoy to miss Commonwealth Games over clash of dates - 42 hrs ago
Manchester Evening News Cycling: Hoy withdraws from Commonwealth Games - 42 hrs ago
Yorkshire Post Commonwealth blow for Hoy - 46 hrs ago