Sunday, 24 August 2008

Chris Hoy appeals to save Meadowbank

The Independent Republic wishes to share its congratulations to Chris Hoy and points out the need for local sports facilities.

Chris Hoy in video appeal for Meadowbank to be saved

Triple Olympic medallist Chris Hoy has given his backing to the campaign to save Meadowbank from closure.

The most successful Scottish Olympian of all time learned his craft in his home town of Edinburgh and readily admits he wouldn’t have achieved his record haul had it not been for the Meadowbank velodrome. Yet Edinburgh Council plan to ignore thousands of objections and demolish the velodrome - plus the neighbouring international athletics stadium and sports centre - and replace it with a cut-down complex that doesn’t cater for most of its current sports, including cycling.

In the video clip, produced by Edinburgh Racers, Chris Hoy said: ”Elite sport cannot stand alone without local facilities giving kids the chance to get into the sport in the first place. I really hope Edinburgh is going to continue to produce world champion cyclists in the future but we cannot do this without a local facility.”

Mark Barry, director of youth racing in Manchester, added: ”This is a track that has been absolutely fundamental in the success of the Great Britain cycling team. Most of our world, Olympic and European champions have come from here.”

The video highlights the lack of proper investment since the Meadowbank track was built forty years ago and the absence of a roof, which causes several events to be rained off every year.

Allister Watson, director of Scottish Cycling, made a telling comparison between Scotland’s top two medal-winning sports: ”Cycling is Scotland’s second most successful Commonwealth Games sport. The most successful sport is swimming. I wonder how our swimmers would get on if there was only one swimming pool for the country and it was outside.”

Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor welcomed the video. He said: ”Chris Hoy is a great role model and proof of what Meadowbank has helped achieve. Imperfect facilities are better than no facilities at all. Edinburgh Council claim they are being forced to radically downscale Meadowbank purely on financial grounds. If that is the case we call upon the Scottish Government to provide them with adequate funding.”