If you have half an hour spare this evening, you could do a lot worse than watch a BBC programme, Inside The Medal Factory. The show charts the story of how Manchester’s velodrome went from white elephant to being the home of a Great Britain team that has dominated track cycling at the last two Olympic Games.
Hosted by ex-NBA star turned psychologist and broadcaster, John Amaechi, the programme celebrates the 20th anniversary of the facility, originally built for Manchester’s failed bid for the 2000 Olympic Games.
Speaking of its transformation to become the home of British Cycling as the National Cycling Centre, Amaechi says “there is a real build it and they will come feel about the place.”
His film, first broadcast on BBC North West last week, intersperses footage of some of those successes with interviews with some of the riders and backroom staff who made it possible.
Those include multiple Olympic champions Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton, Paralympic star Dame Sarah Storey, as well as younger riders who have already made their mark on the sport including Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Becky James.
Among backroom staff, there are interviews with former performance director Peter Keen, who helped secure the Lottery funding that has underpinned Great Britain’s success, as well as the man he brought in and who would replace him in that job, Sir Dave Brailsford, and psychologist Steve Peters.
There’s also a fascinating glimpse of what it’s like in the belly of the velodrome, beneath the boards; among other things, it makes you realise just how big Amaechi is - he stands 6 foot 10 inches.
There is one day left to watch Inside The Medal Factory on BBC iPlayer, but if you don’t manage to catch it there, don’t worry – you can see it on the BBC News Channel, where it will be screened at 0030 and again at 1430 on Saturday 8 March, and again at 0530 and 1030 on Sunday 9 March.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.