Lord Sebastian Coe, chair of the London Olympic Games Organising Committee, has today been visiting the home of British Cycling in Manchester as part of his London 2012 legacy tour of the North West.
The former athlete and MP, who won Olympic gold himself in the 1,500 metres at Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles four years later, as well as silver in the 800 metres at both Games, had a spin around the Manchester Velodrome as members of the Great Britain track squad took him through the art of riding on the boards, and learnt about how coaches and cyclists are preparing for London 2012 from their Manchester base.
He also took a look at the National Indoor BMX Arena currently taking shape next to the Velodrome with London gold medal hopeful Shanaze Reade. The arena is expected to attract 120,000 users once complete, and will also provide a community facility for local schools and clubs.
Talking about his visit to the region, Lord Coe said: “It is a pleasure to be here today to see first-hand how the region is making the most of the London 2012 opportunities. From winning 2012 Games contracts, to training Team GB and Paralympics GB athletes and equipping people with the skills to become a London 2012 Games Maker in-venue volunteer and find employment, the Northwest is striking gold on many fronts already.”
“The success of the National Cycling Centre at the Manchester Velodrome as an elite and community facility is predicated on hard work of all the partners and delivery on the shared vision that sport matters.
“Team GB and Paralympics GB medal success at the Beijing 2008 Games helped create the seismic shift in UK public opinion of the London 2012 Games as people looked forward to hosting such endeavours on home soil. Cycling success also gave much confidence to the team at the London 2012 Organising Committee to push on and deliver new world class arenas for further sporting triumphs," he added.
The occasion of his visit also saw British Cycling and Manchester City Council sign a Memorandum of Understanding, a ten year agreement that lays out the city’s ongoing commitment to cycling, whose aims include “developing a joint strategy for performance, participation, events, facilities and grass-roots projects across all cycling disciplines.”
Ian Drake, Chief Executive of British Cycling, commented: “British Cycling and its elite success are a perfect example of what Olympic legacy is all about. Our dominance on the world’s performance stage at Olympic level has attracted new public and private sector funding, enabling us to build an organisation that can effectively drive participation in its sport. Since we moved to Manchester in 1994, the city has played a vital part in the transformation of our sport.”
He continued: “Today’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Manchester City Council shows our long-term commitment to the city and both the Velodrome and the new Indoor BMX Arena will be the training base for the GB Cycling Team in the build up to London 2012 and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.”
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council added: “The phenomenal success of the Great Britain Cycling Team demonstrates exactly what can be achieved when you combine the vision, foresight and ambition of a city like Manchester. I am proud to reaffirm the city's commitment to the sport and am confident that it will continue to provide opportunities for many local people and our elite athletes of the future.”
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.