It was late in the evening and a group of weary cyclists stood at a bar winding down at the end of the Track World Championships in Malaga, Spain, last year. Among the posse of Australians and Brits chewing the fat was four times Olympic gold medalist Sir Chris Hoy.
Into the bar came several members of the British press looking for a restorative drink of their own. Hoy saw them straightaway.
By his standards, it had not been the best of events. True, he had a silver medal and two bronzes to show for his efforts, but for someone associated almost entirely with gold the championships had been a disappointment. Hoy had just lost a major keirin race – the oddball Japanese creation where a moped winds up the pace – for the first time in his career.
Yet instead of sulking or hiding, he strolled over to say hello and introduce his wife Sarra Kemp, a lawyer from Edinburgh whom he married in 2010 at the city’s St Giles’ Cathedral. “Hello, have you met Sarra?” he said. “Thanks for making the effort to come over for this event.
Cycling has really grown on the back of the coverage you’re giving the sport…”
This is not the sort of conversation journalists usually have with sports stars, most of whom tend to view their interviewers with suspicion, disdain – or worse. But it perfectly encapsulates the decency of Britain’s knight rider.