British Cycling has said the true measure of success of the London 2012 Olympic Games will be in inspiring people to ditch the sofa in favour of saddling up.
The national governing body for cycling made the remark today to coincide with the one year countdown to the widely reported beginning of the Olympic Games.
Partnering with Sky, British Cycling has pledged to get one million people cycling regularly by 2013. The organisation said excellent progress has already been made, with cycling among a small number of sports reporting an increase in participation levels (according to Sport England’s latest Active People survey).
“Winning medals is huge and being the best is the key aim of British Cycling and our partners,” said British Cycling’s chief exec Ian Drake. “But we have a much wider role than that and our whole plan is oriented around inspiring participation and using our elite success to drive more people to get into sport. The opportunity to host an Olympic Games brings with it the tremendous responsibility of legacy.
“Our vision is clear for legacy - we want to get to 2012 and have a nation of active cyclists watching British cyclist succeed, and not a nation of couch potatoes.”
Drake praised the results from British Cycling's relationship with Sky: “There is not a lot of growth across the sports participation at present but we’re delighted to be one of those National Governing Bodies delivering an increase. Our partnership with Sky is one of the main reasons we are in this position. They have embraced our vision and want to help us deliver it and leave a legacy for cycling.
“Diversification to embrace all forms of cycling is absolutely the foundation of our plan and it enables us to do more and have a bigger impact. We are now seeing more people getting involved on a bike for the first time."
British Cycling and Sky engage schools and communities with Go-Ride, Skyride Local and the female-targeted Breeze rides.
Drake said: "Our events calendar is expanding at a phenomenal rate across all the competitive cycling disciplines and non-competitive events such as sportives so there never has been a better time or opportunity to give cycling a go. In fact however you ride your bike you can do it with British Cycling and that’s really powerful.”
Riders from Britain's World Championships winning women's team pursuit squad also shared their views on the impending Olympics.
Dani King said: “It’s incredible. Before the Worlds I didn’t think it was really going to be achievable but it’s been an absolute whirlwind for me. I came in with not that much preparation and I’ve suddenly become a World Champion and I think London’s a realistic goal now. Sometimes it’s hard to get your head around but I’m just going to keep training really hard and hopefully I’ll be in that team. It’s hard to put into words what it will be like if I’m selected. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced before so it will be just amazing. I can’t wait.”
Jo Rowsell commented how a competitive GB squad is helping with motivation: “It drives me on loads having such competition because when I’m out training on the road not only am I thinking about beating the rest of the world, but I’ve got to be in that final three for the GB team.”
London-based Laura Trott added: “Being from down that way – of course it makes it a big deal to me. It’s a full on home Olympics, it couldn’t be any closer to home. It’s crazy thinking about it, that I could be going into town on the train, to ride in the World’s biggest bike race and it’s only a year away. This time last year I wouldn’t have imagined I would have even been close to going to 2012, I didn’t even think I’d be on the long list. It’s just mad how things change.”