CAPITAL golden boy Sir Chris Hoy has called on city officials to preserve the future of a creaking velodrome which set him on the path to becoming Britain’s greatest ever Olympian.
In an exclusive interview with the Evening News, the six-time gold medallist told how the cycle track at Meadowbank Stadium had been a cornerstone of his later success and appealed for greater investment in the facility.
And he said Edinburgh’s reputation as “one of the great track cities” may begin to wane if the sport’s infrastructure was allowed to decline.
Speaking at the inaugural Edinburgh Sky Ride, which saw thousands of cyclists ride around the city in traffic-free streets, Sir Chris also said he had been “overwhelmed” by the reception he had received in his home city – his first visit since the gold-laden London Games.
The 36-year-old, who now lives and trains in Manchester, spoke to the News at Holyrood Park ahead of the Sky Ride, which organisers say attracted 10,000 cyclists onto the streets,
He said: “It’s great to be back in Edinburgh, just to be back in your home town again for the first time [after the Olympics].
“The reaction on the street is quite overwhelming I think people take a lot of pride in it because they realise that I’m born and raised in Edinburgh. I got into the sport at Meadowbank and maybe everyone can take a little bit of pleasure realising that the city has played a massive role in my success over the years.”
Question marks hang over the future of Hoy’s crumbling boyhood cycle track amid talk of selling off parts of stadium – including the velodrome – and creating a new home for Edinburgh Rugby on the site.
News of the talks came eight years after ill-fated plans were first unveiled to sell off the entire Meadowbank site for housing to help pay for a new stadium in Sighthill.
But Sir Chris said it would be “a shame” for the city to be stripped of its only international standard cycle track and said he would like to see investment in the stadium, which previously hosted two Commonwealth Games.
“I would like to see Meadowbank saved. From a personal point of view it means a lot to me but I think for the sport and for Edinburgh, it would be a shame to see a facility of Meadowbank’s stature and history [discontinue]. I think it would be fantastic to keep that going, to refurbish it and maybe pop a roof over it..
“I really do hope that something is done, even if it’s not at Meadowbank but somewhere in Edinburgh.“It doesn’t have to be a massive multi-million pound facility like in Glasgow but somewhere you can ride indoors where kids can try the track and get involved in cycling.
“It would be a shame to see Edinburgh lose that reputation as being one of the great track cycling cities.”
He added: “It is overwhelming coming back and realising that everyone has been watching and supporting you,” he said. “I just hope people have taken pleasure and pride in it because Edinburgh has played such a big part in my success – it’s where I was born and bred.”