The Meadowbank velodrome track was where it all started for Olympic cycling champion Callum Skinner – now he is eating his dinner off it.
The Edinburgh-born lad was a regular from the age of 12 at the track which was once a bustling training facility that produced a string of Scottish sports stars.
Callum, who won team sprint gold and sprint silver on the track at Rio 2016, was devastated to discover the city council “quietly” demolished the outdoor track this summer.
He credits the stadium to being integral to the success of British cycling with other successful athletes starting out there including Sir Chris Hoy, Kate Cullen, Craig Mclean and many more.
The 26-year-old decided to salvage as much of the track as he possibly could as a memento. He has now transformed it to create a dining room table as a symbol of “what should have been”.
He told the Evening News: “There was a thriving cycling community that got me hooked in the first place. I was on a bus one day when I saw some of it had already been demolished. So I went in and took as much as I could. It is now a 6x4 dining room table which won’t fit in my place in Manchester at the moment so it’s at my parents’ house in Edinburgh.
“This table is a contrast of what should have been, the historic track replaced by a new indoor wooden Velodrome. We have neither, so this table is a small tribute.”
Built for the Commonwealth Games in 1970, Meadowbank was the first 250-metre timber track in the UK. A frequently-noted design flaw was the absence of a roof and it swiftly earned the nickname “Wellydrome” given the rate that racing was rained off because of the dangers of riding its steep banking in wet weather.
The venue was the scene of many cycling highlights, starting with the day when Edinburgh’s Brian Temple won a silver medal in the 10 mile event in 1970, making him Scotland’s first-ever Commonwealth cycling medallist.
In the 1980s it produced a stream of British champions, mainly thanks to the City of Edinburgh Racing Club, Meadowbank’s “home” club, with Eddie Alexander excelling on the international stage, too.
Sir Chris Hoy has also mourned the downfall of the Meadowbank track on social media, tweeting: “End of an era for Meadowbank Velodrome. So many memories, so many friendships all thanks to this place.”
Callum added: “It was a sad end to an illustrious facility where I have so many fond memories. It was a cycling bedrock bringing Commonwealth and Olympic success. In my opinion the new facility should be indoor so people can train all year round. I feel as though there is a reluctance from the council to get behind cycling. Once these world class facilities are gone they’re gone.”
A new indoor velodrome has been deemed too expensive while there is no start date for the replacement outdoor track.
Cllr Donald Wilson, culture and communities convener, said: “It’s now time for the site to be redeveloped to provide the city with the new Meadowbank sports centre which will be enjoyed for generations to come. It’s going to be one of the most state-of-the-art facilities in Scotland when it opens, providing even more citizens with the chance to create their own sporting memories.”