In the Barcelona Summer of 1992 I remember pulling off the road in order to listen to Chris Boardman winning Olympic Gold. Little did I know then what that was going to do for us today. First we had the World Class Performance Plan, then the National Velodrome and since then a stream of medal victories in World Cups, World Championships and Olympics cross all aspects of cycling (the exception is cross county mountain biking). In this Olympic year we, The Brits, are favourites to win Olympic Gold in all sorts of cycle events. We are now one of the strongest cycle nations in the world.
As a prelude to the Olympic Track competition the UCI Track World Cup is in London this week. On Thursday we went to see the Team Pursuit qualifying heats. The Velodrome is state of the art and mind blowing; it was jammed with 6,000 fanatical cycling fans and the roof nearly came of when our girls rode close to WR pace and just missed beating the Canadians. Later the men hit the boards to a roar from the crowd that never let up but increased in volume as they started smashing the previous times. I have never experience anything so loud, exciting, emotional or up lifting. It was amazing to see the other competitors standing open mouthed and agog at the sensation of the British Teams. On Friday the women went on to win Gold and set a new World Record time.
We can be so proud. Gone are the days when it was the taking part that counted. We are now a nation that is proud to win and capable of creating winners.
So, with 42% of the population owning a bike, sales for the London WC Track meet selling out in 30minutes, 3,000,000 ready to line the streets when the Tour de France passes through, and the Brits heading up the league table in early season wins on the pro road circuit, I have to ask what is our national sport? Can we honestly say football? Football may be enjoyed by many but it seems to represent every thing that is bad and unsuccessful about British Sport.
Here are a few comments about our experience last Thursday should you be able to go. Security is a bit like the Airports with the same restrictions. They say no food or drink allowed in but they didn’t bother about my water. Apart from the security area, you will not see a waste bin from entering your train station to leaving your station when you get home. So take a bag for rubbish if you don’t want to be a litter lout. They need bins in the velodrome and signs to find them. It is around 30°C by the track. Take a camera and binoculars. Be prepared to scream until you can’t speak. To be a part of British Cycling click here
Roll on the Track World Championships in April and the Olympics this Summer.
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