LONDON Never mind the medal, just getting to a fourth Olympics was an achievement, British track cyclist Chris Hoy said after winning his fifth gold on Thursday.
"The last two years of my career have been the hardest to keep going. I've had to work so much harder than ever before to keep it going," Hoy told reporters having stormed around the velodrome with Jason Kenny and teenager Philip Hindes, almost 17 years his junior, to win the men's team sprint in a world record time.
"People talk about age all the time but I haven't noticed things dropping off massively. I just notice you've got to keep on working so much harder to keep that level," added the 36-year-old Scot, who burst into tears on the medal podium.
Famous for his work ethic, Hoy is a fierce competitor on the track but away from it he is always polite.
Sipping on a bottle of soft drink with tears in his eyes, Hoy apologized to waiting media as he went to give his wife a hug after equaling rower Steve Redgrave's British record of five gold medals.
"It's amazing, but it's just a number really," he replied when asked how it felt to equal Redgrave's haul.
"I still don't think anybody can better Steve's record. The fact it was five consecutive Games. Wow, that's incredible," added Hoy.
Redgrave won five gold medals and a bronze at successive Olympics from 1984 to 2000.
At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Hoy became the first Briton in a 100 years to win three gold medals at a single Games and although he cannot equal that here with just one event left, few would bet against him winning another in the keirin.
"The pressure's off now, I feel I can enjoy it. The morale boost from tonight is incredible," he said.
(Editing by Alison Wildey)