Cycling already "reaping rewards" of Olympic success, claims British Cycling chief
Saturday, 18 August 2012
August 18 - Cycling is already beginning to feel the legacy benefits of Great Britain's success at the Olympic Games, the President of British Cycling has claimed.
Brian Cookson has said the seeds for a positive London 2012 legacy were actually sown four years ago in the wake of Team GB's inspiring performance at Beijing when British cyclists sped off with an unsurpassed total of 14 medals, including eight gold.
That success continued in London with Team GB again heading the road and track medals table with 12, including another eight victories.
And the trend is expected to continue in Rio 2016 with a large number of the Team GB squad, including double gold medallist Laura Trott (pictured top), having competed at their first Olympics in London and now being challenged by a phalanx of talented juniors emerging through the ranks.
"The plans for cycling's legacy from the United Kingdom hosting the 2012 Games were underway long before the Olympic Torch was lit at the stadium in London," said Cookson.
"Since the amazing success of our cyclists in Beijing we have been planning for this surge in interest and we're already starting to reap the rewards."
He added: "The fact that we've now got our first Tour de France winner in Bradley Wiggins and our cyclists scooped eight Olympic gold medals in London is sure to inspire thousands more to take up cycling – and we're ready for them."
Cookson pointed out that Britain's all-conquering success in the Olympic arena has persuaded even more of the country's people to take to the saddle.
"Participation continues to rise with almost two million regular cyclists, our membership is at a record high [at 54,000] and we've created a massive 350,000 free opportunities to ride in the last year for people of all ages and abilities," he indicated.
Indeed, in the few short weeks since Wiggins stormed to Tour victory in July, some 4,000 new names have signed up with British Cycling, the sport's national governing body.
Flushed with Olympic fever and inspiration after Team GB's cycling exploits at London 2012, hundreds of keen young cyclists have signed up to taster sessions at the country's velodromes, with the National Cycling Centre in Manchester fielding 200 enquiries a day.
Youngsters under 16 years of age have also had their cycling appetites whetted by the British Cycling-run Go-Ride Games, which has been offering all types of cycling activity and coaching at Go-Ride clubs during the summer.
Participation in competitive cycling continues to grow with 20,000 people now racing regularly across all disciplines while, at the other end of the scale, Sky Ride offers hundreds of free community bike rides for anyone to enjoy.
Cookson was also quick to point to the high quality of cycling facilities the country now offers – velodrome, closed road circuit, BMX track and even towpaths.
"We've built it and they are coming in their droves," he said, "and we've more new facilities planned over the next 12 months.
"[Whether] cycling to work as a form of transport or going for a family ride on a towpath, we are doing all we can to campaign for better road conditions for all cyclists."
He concluded: "Britain is well on its way to becoming a true cycling nation and our ambitions for the next four-year cycle remain high."
July 2012: British Cycling zooms past 50,000 membership milestone