"In an Olympic year, I always thought an Olympian would win," said the 23-year-old Englishman.
"I was up against such amazing athletes and I was very proud to be standing up there with them."
Adlington, 19, who picked up two swimming golds in Beijing and in doing so became the first Briton to win a Olympic swimming title since 1988, paid tribute to Hoy.
"It was no surprise that Chris won the award," said the Mansfield athlete. "I turned round to my boyfriend and said that 'Chris is unbelievable'. I'm so happy for Chris - it's brilliant to see him win it."
Chris Hoy 283,630 votes Lewis Hamilton 163,864 Rebecca Adlington 145,924 Ben Ainslie 35,472 Joe Calzaghe 34,077 Andy Murray 19,415 Nicole Cooke 18,256 Christine Ohuruogu 7,677 Bradley Wiggins 5,633 Rebecca Romero 4,526
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