Callum Skinner urges Edinburgh to invest in indoor velodrome

Callum Skinner in action for the City of Edinburgh club at the Meadowbank velodrome in 2009. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Callum Skinner in action for the City of Edinburgh club at the Meadowbank velodrome in 2009. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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Edinburgh “must invest in an indoor velodrome” to capitalise on Olympic cycling success, according to gold-medal winner Callum Skinner.

The 23-year-old wants to see the creation of an indoor facility in the Capital to nurture the next crop of champions to build on the success of athletes such as Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and Giles Scott.

But the city council is poised to demolish the crumbling outdoor velodrome in Meadowbank where Skinner started out and has no planned replacement as part of the sport facility’s £41.1 million re-development.

And plans for a cycling hub at Hunters Hall Park in Niddrie, the site of the Jack Kane Centre, would also be open air.

Skinner, who started training with the The Racers after he moved to Bruntsfield when he was 12, accused the city council of making the same mistake twice.

The champion, who clinched gold and silver in the men’s team sprint and men’s sprint respectively, wants to see an indoor facility which could be used all year round.

He said the city council had to follow the lead of Glasgow, which built the indoor Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome for the Commonwealth Games.

The former James Gillespie’s high school student has previously criticised the council for “lack of ambition”, describing their proposal as an “opportunity wasted”.

He said Scotland’s rainy weather would force the open-air velodrome to close in the winter, rendering it useless for aspiring track cyclists. “The proposals are flawed, and Edinburgh’s climate doesn’t suit an outdoor velodrome,” he added.

Allister Watson, secretary of The Racers where Skinner started training, wants to see the creation of a covered 200-metre indoor velodrome with smaller “feeder facilities”.

He likened the Niddrie proposals to building an outdoor swimming pool in Scotland, with the call for better cycling facilities in Edinburgh echoed on social media.

Ed Douglas @Drygyptian tweeted: “I’ll ask again: why no suitable replacement for Meadowbank velodrome, Edinburgh Council?”

Mike Quinn@mikeqtoo wrote: “Velodrome cost: £113m, 1 mile of Edinburgh tram track cost £123m, could’ve built 10 velodromes.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, city sports leader, said that an “extraordinary number” of this year’s Team GB athletes had trained in Edinburgh facilities.

He added: “Most of the successful Olympic track cyclists started out on outdoor velodromes and we have seen other cities like York and Liverpool build outdoor facilities.

“The council has £1.215m of funding set aside for these facilities so we must be realistic in our vision, particularly considering local authority budget constraints and the considerable costs of such facilities, when fantastic national facilities for athletes can be found in Glasgow at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

“As a council we will continue to invest in sport where we can. Of course, if any philanthropic money was to come forward for investment in sport then we would certainly be in position to be more ambitious.