Olympic Legacy: How do we create the next generation of heroes?

Sir Chris Hoy can inspire the next generation of Scottish cyclists
Sir Chris Hoy can inspire the next generation of Scottish cyclists
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REBUILD the velodrome at Meadowbank, create a shared boathouse facility for Capital rowers and invest in more 3G pitches – just a few of the suggestions offered by sporting bodies to ensure the city capitalises on the Olympic success.

The Evening News asked various sports organisations, both local and national, for the top three items on their wish list for Edinburgh.

One of the main recurring themes across sports ranging from football to cycling was the need for continued investment to ensure local athletes can continue to do well at major sporting events.

Professor Grant Jarvie, chair of sport at Edinburgh University, said: “It is too early to fully evaluate the success of London 2012 but it is clear that sustained lottery funding is required to win 
medals.

“The UK Government on the day of the closing ceremony announced £125 million per annum of lottery funding through to 2016. Scotland will benefit from this. The Scottish Government has recognised the importance of developing and funding community sports hubs, active school sport co-ordinators and school sport. Edinburgh will benefit from this.

“Sport as a resource to help cities, communities and 
countries has been in full view over the last two weeks, and just maybe the opportunity exists to grasp not so much the power of sport, but how powerful sport could be.”

Following his recent success, Sir Chris Hoy – who became Britain’s most decorated Olympian when he won his sixth gold medal at the Games – has urged his own sport of cycling and others to seize the opportunity to involve many more young people.

The 36-year-old from Edinburgh, whose road to stardom began at humble Dunedin Cycling Club in 1992 before he first tasted track competition on the Meadowbank velodrome competing for City of Edinburgh Racing Club, said the “feel-good factor” would carry on, but this was the time to capitalise on it.

Ged Holmyard, spokesman for the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative, agreed. At the top of his wish list for the city is the under-threat velodrome at Meadowbank being rebuilt.

A new facility named after Sir Chris Hoy is being built in Glasgow ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and cyclists fear that Meadowbank could be mothballed.

Mr Holmyard said: “It’s well-known that our greatest Olympian started at the Edinburgh velodrome. There will be youngsters inspired to take up track cycling if we have the facility, otherwise their parents will maybe have to drive them to Glasgow when the Commonwealth Games velodrome opens there, which will create even more pollution and congestion on the roads.”

Among the sports bodies surveyed by the Evening News were Tennis Scotland, Scottish Athletics, Scottish Cycling, Scottish Rowing, the SFA and Scottish Swimming.

Another sport hoping to capitalise on Team GB’s Olympic success is athletics, which has seen a rise in interest across the city. In April 2010, there were 1726 members of athletics clubs in Edinburgh and the Lothians, which rose to 2311 in April this year.

Nigel Holl, chief executive of Scottish Athletics, said: “The next two years are very important as we head towards the Commonwealth Games.”

Cycling

What needs to happen:

• More investment in dedicated cycle facilities such as closed-road circuits, BMX tracks, MTB tracks and a regional standard velodrome

• More investment into the sport through sports development (clubs, coaches, competition and recreation opportunities, officials and volunteers)

• Cycling to be identified as a priority sport within Edinburgh

How much will it cost:

• Facilities – between £2 million and £12m, depending on political will and support of the public

• Closed-road circuit (1k or 2k loop, six-metre wide tarmac track) – approximately £500,000

• Regional/national standard BMX track – £300,000-£500,000

• Indoor regional standard wooden track velodrome – £10m

• Outdoor tarmac velodrome – £1m

Craig Burn, Chief Executive of Scottish Cycling: “Our vision is to support and create opportunities for every cyclist in Scotland. With over 25 affiliated clubs in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas, it’s a great time to get involved.”

what the impact/benefit will be: “More people taking part in cycling at all levels; more Edinburgh citizens and Scots representing Scotland and Great Britain at international competition in the years ahead.”

Football

What needs to happen:

• Increase links between schools and football clubs

• Introduce two hours of PE per week in schools

• Continued support from the city council to develop more and better facilities

How much will it cost: Around £2 million

David Drummond, regional manager of the Scottish Football Association in the South-East: “Quite often it’s the good facilities that young people like and that keep them involved in the game or get them involved. Ainslie Park (Spartans) is the blueprint for us for community football clubs. I’m not expecting this to be rolled out across the city but it’s that type of environment where it’s conducive for good football that we need more of in Edinburgh.”

what the impact/benefit will be: “I would hope for a more active nation, and if that leads to future success at the Olympics, then great.”

Athletics

What needs to happen:

• Development and participation

• More competition

• Improved elite performance

How much will it cost: Six-figure sum.

Nigel Holl, chief executive of scottishathletics: “Growing the numbers at all age groups and strands of the sport is the first goal we’d like to see happen in Edinburgh. Ideally we want to drive people from schools into clubs and retain them for life. We could not have hoped for more in terms of firing the imagination of youngsters in particular and that’s huge for the sport in Scotland and beyond. But we must be able to build on that and, with a lot of hard work, I am certain we can.”

what the impact/benefit will be: “More people getting active and competing within athletics, and improved performance at elite level.”

Swimming

What needs to happen:

• Ensure every child can swim - provide children with quality swimming lessons

• Continue investment in teaching and coaching at swimming clubs including Warrender, Hearts, Edinburgh University and Inverleith

• Improve pool programming - ensure there is a balanced programme to cater for all types of pool users

How much will it cost: Part of a £2.5 million plan

Ashley Howard, chief executive of Scottish Swimming: “We now have our highest number of full-time paid coaches in Scotland and these positions need to be maintained.”

what the impact/benefit will be: “A healthier nation and a growth in the number of children who can swim with confidence.”

Tennis

What needs to happen:

• Improve parks tennis across Edinburgh and the Lothians, with projects planned or under discussion in a number of locations

• Improve tennis facilities in schools to allow tennis in areas without parks or club tennis nearby

• More indoor courts to meet demand and add floodlights to community sites and club venues

How much will it cost: Approximately £40,000 per year for ten years.

David Marshall, Chief Executive of Tennis Scotland: “We will continue to train teachers and offer free equipment and resources through the AEGON Schools Tennis programme, and link school activity to parks and clubs.”

what the impact/benefit will be: “A greater base of new players through increased participation will take ten years to filter through.”

Rowing

What needs to happen:

• Create a shared boathouse facility for the Edinburgh rowing community

• Improve links with educational partners, especially schools and universities

• Change perceptions of the sport

How much will it cost: More than £1.5 million

National high-performance co-ordinator for Scottish Rowing Lee Boucher: “On the back of such an outstanding Olympics for Team GB’s rowers, we have a unique opportunity to increase participation in rowing.”

what the impact/benefit will be: “By getting more people into rowing, we increase our potential talent pool, which gives us more chance of feeding even more Scottish rowers on to Team GB in the run-up to Rio 2016.”