Youngsters from British Cycling’s Go-Ride programme joined representatives from the world of cycling today for the official re-opening of the London Olympic Velodrome, now called Lee Valley VeloPark.
As dignitaries and VIPs toured the new multi-sport facilities, 140 young people from five nearby schools were given first access to the road, mountain bike and BMX tracks which surround the velodrome track, with British Cycling Go-Ride coaches delivering sessions.
It was a first taste for the Go-Ride coaches, who will be regular visitors to VeloPark with a weekly slot having been agreed between British Cycling and Lee Valley to allow local Go-Ride clubs – of which there are nearly 40 in London –access to the facilities which brought Great Britain seven Olympic and five Paralympic gold medals in London 2012.
Providing opportunities for young people to cycle through an arrangement such as this is key to maximising the potential of the facilities according to British Cycling president, Bob Howden.
He said: “Creating a lasting legacy for sport has quite rightly been at the forefront of people’s minds ever since London 2012, and I’m proud to see our sport is delivering on its promise, with more and more people choosing cycling nationwide.
“The beauty of cycling is its versatility, a fact no better highlighted than here with all four major disciplines of bike riding available to the public. Having a multi-sport facility such as this will provide millions of people with the perfect way to develop their passion for bike riding, and enhance the sport’s reputation, both in our nation’s capital and beyond.”
The official open day – the facility will be available for use by the public from the 31 March – comes ahead of a return of top-level racing this weekend, when the VeloPark will host the latest round of the Revolution Series with star riders such as double world champion Joanna Rowsell, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny making a return to venue where they secured Olympic gold nearly two years ago.
Future international competition has been confirmed with the UCI Track World Championships coming to VeloPark in 2016, but British Cycling board member Dr George Gilbert was keen to remind everyone of the venue’s potential to inspire the next generation of stars in his speech at the official opening.
He said: “The London Olympics and Paralympics redefined the nation’s sporting landscape, and no sport characterised our success better than the British Cycling’s riders who prospered here at the VeloPark and on London’s roads.
“However, it is one of the great privileges of our sport that the public can share the same experience with the world’s elite, and I’m sure thousands of people from all over the country will take up the opportunity to ride the boards and berms of all four tracks here at the VeloPark from today onwards.”
Lee Valley has a five-year legacy plan to increase cycling participation among schools and diverse community groups, to bring wider benefits of cycling in terms of health, social cohesion and general leisure.
British Cycling will continue to work with Lee Valley to deliver these aims, particularly through our Go-Ride programme, although we are also looking to provide additional opportunities such as dedicated sessions for women and girls-only and a hub for para-cycling sessions, as well as training coaches and volunteers at the venue.