By Nisa Schebella
UK based Australian Ron Webb has been named the latest recipient of the prestigious F.T. Bidlake Memorial Trust plaque awarded to 'the most outstanding performance or contribution to the betterment of cycling in any sphere for the year'. Only citizens of Britain and the Commonwealth are eligible and Webb is only the second Australian in its 80 year history to receive this award.
Webb has been cited, "For his work in designing and building so many tracks world- wide including those in Britain which have furthered the development of cycle racing, leading to British Olympic successes at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004."
"It is a great honour as the second Australian to be awarded the Bidlake Memorial Trust Prize" said Webb from his home in London last week. "The first recipient, in 1934, was also the first Australian winner, Sir Hubert "Oppy" Opperman. So that gives me pride to fly the Australian flag after such a long break". (Oppy won his award for his 24 hour John O'Groats to Lands End and 1000 miles records accomplished in the one ride in October 1934.)
"The Bidlake Plaque is for the highest achievement in Cycling and not restricted to just cycle racing, but all to do with the sport and trade on two wheels. I am also humbled that I have been nominated in this particular year of Olympic and World championship success by British cyclists. But, I guess it does underline the fairplay and sportmanship of the Trust Committee".
Webb, a former Australian cycling champion, started racing at 15 with the Canterbury Cycling Club in Sydney. He now lives in England and works with the British Cycling Federation and Sport England as a track consultant. He also holds the position of European consul to Cycling Australia and has been pivotal in negotiating European riders for the Tour Down Under since its inception in 1999. As a track designer and builder, Webb has stamped his name on 61 cycling facilities since 1970. Both temporary and permanent, some of his creations around the world include tracks such as the Tasmanian Silver Dome in Launceston, the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games track, the Seoul Olympic track, the Malaysian South East Asian Games track in Ipoh, the Speed Dome in Perth, the Athens Olympic track, the Herne Hill track centenary rebuild in London, the Adelaide Super Dome, the British National Centre for Cycling in Manchester, the Wangunal Velodrome in New Zealand, the Dunc Grey Velodrome in Sydney and the Melbourne Vodafone Arena.
Webb was has also been promoter of the London Six-day race, race director at Herning Halls Denmark, race director at the track in Hanover, Germany as well as a promoter of other sports such as speedway, pro-celebrity snooker, weight-lifting, and modern pentathalon.