Cybernat response shaming as Chris Hoy’s rationality highlights a genuine independence issue

Yesterday, the phenomenally successful and inspirational Scottish track cyclist, Chris Hoy, speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, identified one of the core problems for Scottish athletes of all kinds were Scotland to become independent – training facilities and coaches.

He was not speaking politically. He was speaking as an athlete. His position was objectively analytic – and it is unanswerable.

He said: ‘If you’re really serious about it [Ed: 'it' being producing internationally successful athletes] you have to provide the facilities and the coaching infrastructure.’

The cost of providing world class facilities and services for any, never mind all, of the sports in which Scottish athletes compete is clearly not realisable. Our best athletes would be left either lowering their ambitions or leaving to train elsewhere and potentially competing under other flags anyway.

Chris Hoy made it clear that he had no choice but to go to live in Manchester to train there with the British cycling squad – and that, without those resources of facilities and specialists in all aspects of physical preparation, equipment, training and competition, he could not have got where he did.

Hoy has always been unequivocal that he is proud to be Scots and proud to be British. He resolutely refuses to be recruited as a political prize by either campaign in the independence debate; and is remarkably steady on his feet in staying out of that arena.

But his openly rational assessment of the realities of what competing successfully at the highest level involves, has brought down upon him a swarm of cybernats in full sting.

Today’s press is reporting that, amongst other – and scatological – abuses,  Hoy is being called ‘a bigoted anti-Scot’, has been told to ‘Naff off’ and described as a traitor to his country.

This is the very ugly face of the raw nationalism that is being triggered by the independence debate and fuelled by populist Scottish Ministers controversially using the phrase’ anti-Scottish’ in Holyrood debates.

The issue Hoy is highlighting is one of straightforward practicality and it is one that must, of course, be addressed.

The issue is even more complex than one of facilities and coaching.

Being in Manchester was not just about having access to the best facilities and the best coaches.

It was training with the British squad.

The cyclists likely to defeat Hoy in competition were members of this squad, not purely athletes from other countries.

Training with this squad - which includes internal competitions and trials – is what kept Hoy at the very top level of competitiveness. He was constantly tested by the very best in the word, who were his peers – and they will have pushed each other to their limits all the time.

This atmosphere, this centralisation, supported by the breathtaking range of expertise available, is what has made the UK great in cycling, under the unmatchable Dave Brailsford.

How many of could not wait for television coverage to get back to the velodrome during the London 2012 Olympics? How many of us were utterly invigorated by the abilities and achievements of the entire team? How many of us were not warmed by being part of that? How many of us did not identify ourselves with that glorious team of [English] women cyclists, the endlessly giggling track assassins of the pursuit, Danielle King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell ?

Being part of this triumphant set up didn’t make Chris Hoy less of a Scot or any of us less proud of where we live – but it made us a part of something superb, winning, world beating; something fun and exhilarating that reminded us of the value of ambition and made us bigger.

Competitive sport  IS about scale, about numbers, about a big enough catchment to trawl and put together a squad of such potential that they will drive each other to be the best there is. A small country, however successful, simply cannot produce this.

No one with the ability and the will to be the best will settle for less than this – and if they did, they would be unlikely to become the best.

None of will forget the sight of Chris Hoy, coming into the last bend in the final of the Kierin, losing track to Germany’s Maximilian Levy and, summoning everything he had, driving himself over the line to take his sixth gold medal by the whisker that was all it needed.

That was sheer will – and what bred and sustained that will was the level of internal competition and competitiveness that was in the air he has breathed with the Manchester squad at that facility.

To see a Scottish athlete of that incomparable calibre now subjected to the abuse of a cybermob who are unlikely, between them, to be able to summon much in any array of achievements is simply shaming.

Note: The Radio 5 Live interview also retrieved the memory of a particularly cringe-making attempt by the First Minister to ‘brand’ the Scottish athletes competing in Team GB, by referring to them as ‘Scolympians’ – which sounded like a disease. [Is it Scoliosis?] Asked what he thought of this branding, Hoy said briskly, ‘Not a lot’.

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42 Responses to Cybernat response shaming as Chris Hoy’s rationality highlights a genuine independence issue

  1. Newsroom – your stories recently appear to be spinning in ever-decreasing circles around a black hole of anti-nationalist sentiment.

    Another desperate slow-news piece following close on the heels of ‘sh*tgate’.

    For goodness sake, get out in the sun for a bit!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 22

    • We have said virtually nothing about the independence issue for some time, so this is a discreditable attempt to skew attention away from something unacceptable.
      It is worth noting that we do not describe independence as a ‘nationalist’ issue, although you have chosen to do so.
      It is precisely that hard wiring of stances and issues which do not necessarily belong together but are being fused in an increasingly unpleasant and chauvinist campaign that has produced the behaviours which we find uncivilised and unhelpful.
      We would add that if this is an attempt to make us hold back in embarrassment from any focus on issues around the independence referendum, we are not affected by such transparent manoeuvres.
      We are on the record as having been strong supporters of independence and having moved decisively away from it on the basis only of the sheer weight of emerging evidence against its viability; and on the extent to which the Scottish Government’s answer to many insoluble obstacles is to suggest that Scotland would simply tuck under the wing of the continuing UK. We’re already there – and the increasing reliance on sharing the UK’s existing systems alone underlines the shallowness of the notion of ‘independence’ as it is being proposed. What is more, the economists, Jim and Margaret Cuthbert, are saying the same thing.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 22 Thumb down 11

  2. No mention of comedian Frankie Boyle and his family being hounded out of their house after unionist cyber-extremists published his address because he supports independence?


    Of course, the unionist press didn’t follow this story.

    You couldn’t read it in the Scotsman and get outraged and copy it on here, so the story doesn’t exist.

    Please go on a journalism course and learn the meaning of balance.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 18

  3. Having similar thoughts to Tim.

    Perhaps a change of gear from NAT bashing.

    Let’s exercise the windmill protesters, WHO HAVE BEEN RELATIVELY BENIGN RECENTLY, least a few more planning consents dare to ‘slip’ through the net, if eyes are somewhat off the ball.

    Mind you the bonus is a good way of halting mans best bet for self destruction – nuclear power, and its impossible to safely dispose of lethal wastes.

    So on second thoughts back to Nat bashing Lynda, its worth the egotistical bruises.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 15

  4. For people who want to read a more balanced version of events have a look at Wings over Scotland which does a rather good piece on this. Readers can note how many boxes Lynda Henderson’s piece here ticks in the Unionist guidelines to partial treatment of news.

    The “traitor” comment seems to have come from a unionist on-line poster keen to put words in the mouths of cybernats.

    As to Chris Hoy’s comments, you can interpret them as a pitch for more investment in national training facilities for an independent Scotland rather than an argument for staying in the discredited UK.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 19

    • Let’s have the evidence for your assertion that ‘ The “traitor” comment seems to have come from a unionist on-line poster keen to put words in the mouths of cybernats.’ ?
      We note that you do not support this allegation, a standard – and transparent ‘spinning’ ploy.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 7

      • here’s a clue … lifted from link above
        quote —————
        An accusation of “traitor” being reported in many of the papers, meanwhile, appears to have actually come from a Unionist – the Scotsman quotes it in full as:
        “Oh dear Chris, you have just went from being a Scottish hero in the eyes of the Bravehearts to being a traitor, how dare you ?”
        Particularly alert readers may have spotted that independence supporters rarely tend to refer to themselves as “the Bravehearts”
        ————– end quote
        think Rev Stu has a valid point there

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

        • Iain

          Absolutely right-for example the blogger called “Braveheart” is a notorious unionist supporter and “Scottish” Labour party councillor.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

      • “Let’s have the evidence for your assertion that ‘ The “traitor” comment seems to have come from a unionist on-line poster”

        It’s rather telling that the Scotsman hastily edited the “traitor” quote out of the online version of the article after Wings Over Scotland highlighted the illogicality of attributing it to an independence supporter.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    • Wings Over Scotland advocates independence for Scotland and so there is no reason to believe that it gives a more balanced view of events. I would however accept that if one reads both sides of the press coverage they can form their own opinion.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  5. Glasgow now has the cycling facilities Chris left Scotland to use in Manchester … so for track cycling at least, Chris’s comments about having ‘no choice’ are out of date!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 8

    • A velodrome is nowhere near what Chris Hoy is talking about.
      And if you read the article properly you would see that we are pointing to far wider issues here even than the spectrum of necessary infrastructural and support investment.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 8

      • OK — There are quite a few UK athletes etc that train outwith UK, some in USA, so to me this isn’t much of an independence issue really is it? — borders are no obstacle for those wishing to excel at a sport and these people will continue to go where best facilities/climate/coaches are for their chosen sport(s)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

        • July 1st 2005
          “ANDY MURRAY last night told British tennis chiefs that he could have been one of their success stories had they invested more heavily in him.

          The 18-year-old moved to Spain for coaching as a 15-year-old because he could not get funding from the Lawn Tennis Association. He said: “I didn’t get funded when I needed it most.” ”

          So much for the Union dividend for one up and coming star. And no, it’s not much of an independence issue anyway.

          Independence is about a state of mind, it should never be an issue directed by personal advantage, financial, sporting or otherwise. That, unfortunately, is what this referendum debate has descended into. The Irish, Canadians, Australians, Kiwis, Indians, Jamaicans, Malaysians, etc., etc., all have that state of mind. The Scots just don’t.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

        • Mo Farrah did most of his training in the USA-perhaps we should become the 51st state after all-they certainly won’t be rejoining GB

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      • Garbage, As any athlete will tell you the critical factor is coaching. Coaches are reasonably cheap. The Commonwealth Games means that we have a great range of international standard facilities centred on Glasgow that we can capitalise if we want to. However, to argue that we should base our decision on whether or not to choose independence on future sporting prowess is one of the most stupid arguments as I have heard in some time. OK the one about losing Scottish pound notes was also pretty silly.. and then there was the one about England bombing our airfields, oh! and let’s not forget about how we will all need passports to visit England.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 9

    • Obviously the top level of athletes can always find a place abroad to train because other (usually wealthy ones like the US) want them to train with their athletes to improve their performance.

      It is the new athletes and mid-level ones who will lose out because the wealthy countries are not going to pay for them to go and train with their own athletes and they will not have their own elite athletes to compete against in training.

      Any small country has this problem, they will have the odd star who will get the opportunities abroad but the breadth and depth of quality that larger countries have.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  6. Clearly there is a pattern here , Susan Calman , Nigel Farage , now Sir Chris Hoy and West Coast Motors .
    Nationalism is a poisonous , divisive creed.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 19

    • Nigel Farage!!!!!!


      So you like Farages Britishness anti immigrant policies, Out of Europe, bring back conscription.

      No thanks

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11

    • The pattern is one of lies and distortions by the unionist media-nobody has suffered more insults than Alex Salmond.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  7. While not wishing to detract from Mr Hoy’s achievements he is factually wrong in supposing that the best facilities are provided in the largest countries.

    It is well known that the UK has thrown loads of money at cycling, rowing and other sports which involve groundbreaking technology which most countries can’t afford.

    My wife was a gamesmaker at the London Paralympics and loved the experience. What struck her was the huge difference between the equipment used by athletes from developing and developed countries. Not a level playing field based purely on ability but money.

    The best sports club in the World is Club La Santa in Lancerote which is owned by a Danish Trust . Most folk in the UK have probably never heard of it but that says more about the insularity of the UK media than the population.

    Thousands of elite athletes have trained there most of whom we in the UK will never hear about, but the greater feature of Club La Santa is that it is open to everyone whether athletic or not and at relatively modest cost.

    Finally please stop referring to Scotland as small . We aren’t! Over half the states in the UN have smaller populations than we do.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 9

  8. It would appear what we have here is Sir Chris Hoy talking about something he KNOWS about.

    Cybernats talking about something they know NOTHING about.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 14

  9. Newsroom states that Chris Hoy was “Not speaking politically, he was speaking as an athlete”.
    Really? This interview is political, he knew it and participated knowing fine and well it would be politicised big time.
    Without actually coming out and shocking us with “I’m fur a ‘NO’ vote masel” his words leave anyone with have a brain in little doubt where his allegiances lie, hence him avoiding the wrath of unionists since he spoke on this subject.
    Whilst admiring his athletic achievements to date, his recent curious decision to avoid the Commonwealth games for what were weak reasons spoke volumes.
    This, a decision from a man who in the summer of 2012 conquered all before him, at the very top of his game yet feels the training towards and participation in the Commonwealth games in 24 months time is beyond him? To deteriorate in such a short time from top dog to also ran? Where is his will to succeed, his desire to compete, his pride in representing Scotland this time?
    Could it be that the Olympics are seen as more prestigious? Maybe he genuinely thinks he wouldn’t be able to sustain the same level in training and perish the though may have to take a lowly bronze?
    Whatever his true thinking, and only he will know, I think something does not add up with this decision as any opportunity to represent your country of birth, especially at this level, would be the crowning glory to most genuinely proud Scots.
    I may well be wrong, and came to this conclusion long before Chris Hoy’s trumpeting of the union, but I suspect Mr Hoy has other motives and allegiences, poorly disguised.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12

    • I have to disagree with you here. I’m not at all clear here that Chris Hoy was advocating maintaining the Union. Rather, he is pointing to the simple fact that if we want sporting prowess we need to invest in it.

      As to the Commonwealth games, I would point to the fact that he is already beyond the age where athletes from any discipline – crown bowls excepted- would have already given up.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

      • Fletcher
        Yes, he is already beyond the age most stop competing, yet, he has just trounced the best competitors in his sport that the world could throw at him a matter of months ago!
        I know it is a different sport but equally as physically demanding – Paolo Maldini played football at world class level all his footballing career for AC Milan and Italy hanging his boots up at 41 I think.
        Point is there are always exceptions, individuals who exceed expectations, Mr Hoy at 39 being one of them.
        If his not partaking at the Commonwealth had been for family reasons rather than his line that it was going to be too tough on him to maintain the same level, too many breathing down his neck, not even I would have questioned his decision.
        Is the thought of Mr Hoy having to accept any medal bar gold at the expense of representing his country of birth too unimaginable maybe?
        Regarding your other point, I do not doubt he wishes to see more investment in sport in general here in Scotland, however, his interview was bound to be interpreted the very way the media has done and I believe he would be perfectly aware it would be done so.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

        • Jnr “I know it is a different sport but equally as physically demanding – Paolo Maldini played football at world class level all his footballing career for AC Milan and Italy.”

          You simply cannot compare the physical effort demanded of a footballer (who let’s face t is not always that active in the game) with that of a world class sprint cyclist. I read reports after the last Olympics that Hoy would be physically sick after his sustained sprint training. The only time footballers are sick is when they are ‘as a parrot’.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

          • Fine Simon, you do not like my comparison, but you surely get the drift. Oldies can and are, competing at the highest level in sport.
            I ask myself, could Mr Hoy achieve a lower placed medal at the Commonwealth given his admission that months after reaching the pinnacle of sporting achievement in his field he might not be able to maintain the same level?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

        • I’m disappointed that he won’t be competing at the Commonwealth games but I just don’t think it was anything to do with politics. He has represented Scotland in the past. He just wants to do something other than train with its attendant muscle burns, throwing up and having to live in Manchester – and who can blame him?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

    • Jnrtick, you’ve let yourself and the Nationalist side down with your comments, reinforcing the story here, rather than give evidence against it.
      For you to call into question a decision by someone that owes nothing to you, or anyone, is as low as you can get.

      To ‘suspect’ him of other motives and allegiances? Pathetic. Truly pathetic.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

      • Jamie
        “Truly pathetic”?
        You clearly disagree as do many on here including no doubt ‘Yes’ voters SNP members or otherwise as I fully expected. Thats absolutely fine.
        You say I “call into question a decision that owes nothing to me”. Did I claim his decision owed me anything? Of course not.
        I like everyone else posting on this have an opinion, an opinion held since his decision not to compete and an opinion I will voice whether it is popular or not. Not through any malice but one I have attempted to explain I came around to forming having disected his explanation.
        Next time you accuse my opinions as being “as low as you get” firstly put my comments into perspective. My posts haven’t spewed vile abusive attacks on his character or family, I simply questioned his decision and came to my personal conclusion and explained my reasoning behind it.
        Secondly, if my views on Mr Hoy are as shocking as you’ve ever heard directed at anyone, I know it takes a wee bit longer and a little more thought but please explain where they fall down and I as I did with Fletcher will try and justify.
        I from time to time look favourably on your sometimes even handed approach to political issues raised on here Jamie but do think this comment was a bit knee-jerk and OTT.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

        • jnrTick, I have re-read your posts, but I stand by what I said. I feel they are a very unfair, and basically an attack on someone who has done nothing to deserve it.

          Sorry if you feel I was OTT, probably because Chris Hoy is one of the very very few people in the public eye I respect and admire.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  10. “The raw and ugly face of Nationalism”

    This “raw ugly face” does of course not exist within Unionism. Wouldn’t hear any reports of that nasty stuff on here.

    What about instead of singling out those rotten Nationalists, using the words “The raw and ugly face of those who are intolerant of others views” or something along these lines instead?
    Nah, too impartial eh?
    As someone else above quite rightly pointed out, the very same abuse is aimed at those who are pro-indy by a minority of lunatic unionists. Don’t you remember Nicola Strugeon was threatened with her life not so long ago, maybe it wasn’t featured on here? Just one instance from loads we ‘Yes’ voters can cite.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 9

  11. The story is a good example of where the pro-indepence lobby should be painting a more balanced picture and not one thats a one-sided win-win for all. Chris Hoy makes the point that his being Scottish is irrelevant to his success as it could only have been achieved using facilities not in Scotland. Although suitable facilities may or may not now be available in Scotland for track cycling, there will be loads of other sports that are probably in the same position.

    There are probably loads of Scottish athletes who train in facilities all over Europe and beyond and could still compete for Scotland. But it is probably a reality that without facilities to use at home they will be at a disadvantage to others, or have to move away to properly make use of them.

    For me, the SNP would get a lot more respect if it for once started to say that for all the benefits of independence, there are things like this that would need a huge wedge of public money to develop home-grown facilities that are probably not so achievable in the short – medium term. And there will be all sorts of areas of sport, commerce and public services that are shared with the rest of the UK and will need to be replicated in a truely independent nation.

    Hanging on the coat-tails of glory on the basis of someones place of birth and ignoring that they could only have achieved that greatness by going elsewhere to me is just a stupid and hollow message making me all the more likely to question the selectiveness of the information used to make the case for independence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

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