Despite being honoured by the city he grew up in, Olympic champion Chris Hoy is saddened by the news that his local council has made no plans to replace the velodrome where he began his cycling career.
In a report commissioned by Edinburgh Council to determine the future of Meadowbank Stadium, the Save Meadowbank Campaign (SMC) has highlighted the omission of any facility to replace the current Meadowbank velodrome, which may be cleared to make way for the refurbishment of Royal Commonwealth Pool.
“It’s short-sighted of the council not to include any cycling facility in their plans,” Hoy told The Scotsman newspaper. “We don’t expect an all-singing, all-dancing track, just a basic, training-standard facility. A concrete 250-metre track with a canopy, or a 200m indoor wooden track – these do not cost the earth, but they would provide a lifeline for young cyclists in Edinburgh.”
An Edinburgh Council spokesperson said the report’s omission of any plans for a new cycling track wasn’t indicative that a new facility would not be built, are subject is up for further discussion.
Only last week, the reigning Olympic champion in the Kilo was honoured for his two world titles by Edinburgh Council, which included the creation of a new award to honour the city’s best cyclist. However, despite a new velodrome planned for Glasgow, Hoy says if a new velodrome isn’t built to replace the 40-year-old Meadowbank track, estimated to cost around £5 million, there won’t be anyone to hand the award to.
“The velodrome has established a tradition of track cycling in Scotland. The tradition has been built up over the years and the fruits are only really being seen now. Scottish riders dominated British track racing in the 1980s and then, in the last decade, there have been riders, including myself, who have made an impact at world level.
“If we lose the facility that will all be lost. It’s as simple as that. We are getting a new velodrome in Glasgow, and that’s great, but if I was a 14 or 15-year-old kid – the age I was when I started at Meadowbank – I wouldn’t be able to travel there on a weekly basis. I would have been lost to the sport, I’m absolutely sure of that.”