British Cycling has outlined its strategy for the next four years, just days after Bob Howden became its new president – including an ambitious target of emulating or exceeding the country’s London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games tally at Rio in 2016, and promoting greater equality for women within the sport.
Howden, who was elected British Cycling’s new president at the weekend, has acknowledged that Cookson will be “a tough act to follow.”
But the new strategy unveiled today, called British Cycling: Our Commitment – you can read it in full here – outlines how the governing body plans to build on the legacy of the man who helped rescue it from the brink of bankruptcy in 1997.
The Lottery funding that Cookson was instrumental in bringing into British Cycling that year has transformed Great Britain into one of cycling’s global powerhouses on both the road and the track.
Between then and 2012, the country’s cyclists have won 34 Olympic medals, 19 of them gold, 51 Paralympic medals, including 28 golds, and 94 World Championship medals in Olympic disciplines, of which 35 were gold.
That success has also helped create a surge in membership for British Cycling, which outlines the main pillars of its new strategy as:
• A push for greater sustainability with an increased volunteer workforce, who can drive participation, supported by an increased membership base.
• Continuing to grow the membership to provide a strong voice on behalf of all cyclists, actively promoting their needs and protecting their rights.
• Ambitious targets for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games to support the aspiration to maintain or even increase the medal tally of the British team’s performance in London – a feat not achieved by a host nation to date in the history of the Games.
• By 2017, increasing once a week participation by 125,000. That will only be achieved through our continued partnership with Sky and a significant expansion of British Cycling’s delivery model with local authorities and other stakeholders.
• Significant strides in addressing the gender gap in cycling with an ambitious target of getting one million more women cycling by 2020.
The organisation’s chief executive, Ian Drake, commented: “British Cycling is now well-established as the leading sports governing body in this country, thanks to an astonishing range of successes across the Olympic and Paralympic Games, World Championships and the creation and successes of Team Sky.
“But it is not just there that we have delivered. Our participation programmes have continued to thrive. Our partnership with Sky is transforming participation in cycling across Britain with over one million new regular participants recruited since we launched the Sky Ride programme in 2009.
“Looking to the future, our challenge is to continue to thrive in this new era and expand in a sustainable manner, making the most of the opportunities offered to us. More people than ever before, in every walk of life, now know more about cycling and want to get involved. We are determined to welcome them, encourage them and work with them to move our sport forward.”
British Cycling’s new President, Bob Howden, added: “Over the next four years we need to remain true to what has become our tradition: to succeed on the world stage and to inspire people to enjoy riding their bikes more often, be it for sport, recreation or transport.
“Brian Cookson is a tough act to follow – especially when you look at the amazing roll call of successes that British Cycling has enjoyed under his leadership. We are certainly riding high and it’s now my job to ensure that we build on this over the next four-year cycle. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.”
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.