London's hosting of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has sparked much discussion over the legacy of the Games and their ability to inspire sports participation in the population – and in the future. That legacy is already well underway for cycling, according to Brian Cookson OBE, president of British Cycling.
In a lengthy statement, Cookson referenced the impact of the Beijing Olympics on cycling, rising participation across the board and Britain's state of the art cycling facilities.
He also paid tribute to the Sky, Sport England, UK Sport and other sponsors – as well as a network of volunteers, coaches and clubs who have all contributed to the legacy.
Cookson said: “The plans for cycling’s legacy from the UK hosting the Games were underway long before the Olympic torch was lit at the stadium in London. Since the amazing success of our cyclists in Beijing we have been planning for this surge in interest and we’re already starting to reap the rewards.
“Participation continues to rise with almost two million regular cyclists, our membership is at a record high, and we’ve created a massive 350,000 free opportunities to ride in the last year for people of all ages and abilities. Through Sky Ride, we have set up hundreds of free community bike rides for anyone to join, together with 16 mass participation city centre events, a community of 1,300 ride leaders and over 500 validated routes. Over 8,000 people are now setting up their own rides through our Social Cycling Groups network.
“This success is all down to the hard work and support of our network of volunteers, clubs, coaches, ride leaders, funders and partners – without whom our sport wouldn’t function. The fact that we’ve now got our first Tour de France winner in Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins and our cyclists scooped eight Olympic gold medals in London is sure to inspire thousands more to take up cycling – and we’re ready for them.
“Britain has fantastic state of the art cycling facilities covering every discipline – be it a velodrome, a closed road circuit or a BMX track. It’s not a case of build it and they will come, we’ve built it and they are coming in their droves, with more new facilities planned over the next 12 months.
“And let’s not forget that cycling doesn’t have to be a structured activity, be it cycling to work as a form of transport or going for a family ride on a towpath at the weekend, we are doing all we can to campaign for better road conditions for all cyclists.
“With the continued support of Sport England, UK Sport, Sky, our sponsors, and local authorities, Britain is well on its way to becoming a true cycling nation and our ambitions for the next four year cycle remain high.”
The statement went on to list key examples proving the UK's interest in cycling is very much on the up, including (in the words of British Cycling):
Participation – Almost two million people are now cycling at least once a week, with 163,000 more doing so in the last six months of 2011/12. 53,000 more women are cycling regularly now than were six months ago.
New talent - Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton may have competed in their final Olympics but British Cycling’s talent pathway has seen new young stars coming through the system and already winning World Championships at Junior and Under 23 levels. A large number of the 2012 Olympic Team, including double gold medallist Laura Trott, were at their first Olympics.
British Cycling Membership is at a record 54,000 members. Since GB and Team Sky rider Bradley Wiggins crossed the finishing line on the Champs Elysees on 22 July, 4,000 members have joined British Cycling.
Olympic fever – Hundreds of aspiring Chris Hoys and Laura Trotts have signed up to taster sessions at the country’s velodromes. The National Cycling Centre’s velodrome in Manchester is getting 200 new enquiries a day compared with a daily average of 20 before the Games. Taster sessions are now fully booked for the next four months.
Facilities - With the opening of closed road circuits in cities including Blackpool and Middlesbrough, state-of-the- art velodromes in Bournemouth, and now London and Glasgow, a resurfaced Herne Hill, one of the world’s first permanent indoor BMX tracks in Manchester and an international BMX facility in Birmingham as a legacy from hosting the BMX World Championships, British Cycling has continually supported and invested in projects to offer cycling opportunities for all. The main focus for next year is to provide a velodrome in Derby, closed road circuits in York and Bath, mountain bike facilities in Manchester and Essex and a BMX track in Burgess Park, London.
Expanding Olympic cycling facilities - Cycling facilities built for the Olympics will be expanded to include a road circuit and off road trails. British Cycling is working with the London Borough of Redbridge to secure a long-term future for the road and MTB facilities provided at Hog Hill and to replace the Eastway track on which the Olympic Park was partly built. We are also working with Essex County Council to create a permanent and sustainable mountain bike facility at the Hadleigh Farm site.
Major events – British Cycling has lined up three national and international events to continue the Games legacy: the British National Track Championships in Manchester at the end of September, a Track World Cup round in Glasgow in November and a UCI BMX Supercross World Cup round in Manchester in April 2013. RideLondon, a two day cycling festival, for amateur, club and world elite cyclists, will take place in the capital next August. British Cycling is also behind a bid to bring the Track World Championships to London in 2016.
Online interest – Visits to British Cycling’s website have at times increased four-fold and throughout the Games have at least doubled. Even now, after the Olympic flame has been extinguished, visits have doubled compared to last year’s figures. @BritishCycling, the new twitter feed, gained over 6,000 followers.
Competitive cycling – Participation in the sport is continuing to grow with over 20,000 people now regularly racing across all disciplines. Almost 3,500 competitive cycling events now take place each year.
The next generation – An unprecedented number of young people are making their way into the sport through the Go-Ride Games which has seen hundreds of under 16s attend events over the opening weekend. Over 120 Go-Ride clubs are scheduled to take place throughout August, providing thousands of youngsters with the ideal way to try cycling for the first time.
PIC CREDIT: www.britishcycling.org.uk
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