Olympic kilometre champion Chris Hoy has expressed concern at a recent report from Edinburgh Council that makes no mention of upgrading facilities at Meadowbank velodrome - the venue where Hoy began his career as Scotland's most successful track cyclist. Supporters of the 40 year-old open air velodrome believe the council may be planning to sell off some land at Meadowbank for housing, in order to fund refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool.
Hoy, who was honoured with a civic reception in Edinburgh last week, said that without an ongoing commitment to track cycling in the Scottish capital, there may not be any more such achievements to celebrate. "The velodrome has established a tradition of track cycling in Scotland," he told The Scotsman newspaper. "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.
"They say it takes eight years to create a world-class athlete, but it takes decades to build this kind of tradition, with all the expertise and experience of the people involved, in terms of organisation and coaching."
Despite Glasgow's plans to build a brand new velodrome after being awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Hoy insists that the loss of Meadowbank would almost certainly impact on the development of young track cyclists. "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," he said.
The 31 year-old said he does not expect the council to build a world-class facility like Glasgow, but a basic track where children can practice cycling away from the city's increasingly congested road network. "We don't expect an all-singing, all-dancing track, just a basic, training standard facility," said Hoy. "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."
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