Sir Chris Hoy, the quadruple Olympic gold medallist, today launched his autobiography at the Manchester Velodrome, where, at the UCI Track World Cup event at the end of this month, he will make his comeback to major competition after the career-threatening hip injury he suffered in a crash at the Copenhagen World Cup in February.
Hoy admitted that his age, 33, makes him "relatively old compared to my teammates," but very young to be writing his life story. He said that his convalescence from injury allowed him time to "reflect on my sporting life, from seven-year old BMX-er" to arguably the greatest track cyclist of all time.
Not that Hoy makes such a claim for himself. The book reflects his humble and modest character, stressing hard work, commitment and goal-setting. As a youngster, he notes, he was never the best, and had to strive for any successes he achieved in a sporting career that also included football, rugby and rowing.
"It seemed like a huge setback at the time," said Hoy of his crash in the keirin final in Copenhagen. "But looking back now, I honestly think it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
"It's strange how things work out," he continued. "Even if I had been able to go to the world championships [in Poland in March] I would have gone there with only very compromised training under my belt. I tried to compress everything into a short period of time, from the beginning of January onwards, and so the chances of me wining the Worlds were pretty slim, to be honest. In the long term it might not have been the best thing going to the Worlds undercooked and losing in that way.
"The crash gave me a little breathing space, which I hadn't really enjoyed post-Beijing. It gave me a chance to reflect on my career and Beijing, write my book and get engaged to Sarra and, when I eventually healed, get a really solid summer of training in the bank.
"I don't want to build up too much expectation," added the man who won all three sprint events at the Beijing Olympics. "But all I will say is that, in terms of performance, speed and power, I am going very well indeed. I feel fantastic. There was such a sense of freedom turning the mobile phone off and getting back to training and sleeping this summer, and now I am so hungry again for bike racing."
Chris Hoy: The Autobiography is published by HarperSport, £18.99