Edinburgh’s open-top parade of Olympic medallists this afternoon turned into a Save Meadowbank rally.
Triple Gold winner Chris Hoy continued to voice his support for the cause. He was joined on the top deck of the bus by five members of Scottish cycling’s Youth Talent Team who train at Meadowbank. Posters were displayed in the Royal Mile and hundreds of Save Meadowbank banners were waved by spectators.
Hoy has made his position perfectly clear since returning from Beijing. He wants the City of Edinburgh Council to rethink its plan for sport provision and for the Scottish Government to provide the Council with adequate funding for what is a national facilty at Meadowbank.
He told the BBC it would be ‘a real pity, a real shame’ if the Meadowbank velodrome was lost. He continued: ‘Any number of young cyclists out there who could go on to become Olympic and world champions would never get the opportunity to try the sport. If the velodrome had never been at Meadowbank I would never have taken up the sport and I wouldn’t be standing here with all these people desperate to talk to me.’
Several campaigners were also inside Edinburgh Castle for the pre-parade reception. Allister Watson, who represents the East of Scotland Cycling Association, was one of them. He said: ‘The Meadowbank site is perfect for sport. It is very convenient because it is centrally located and contains a mix of facilities that is available to everyone. It is heavily used and often over subscribed. For the Council to want to sell Meadowbank and replace it with housing and a scaled down sports facility is simply ridiculous.’
Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor added: ‘Alex Salmond has to match his rhetoric with hard cash. This is an ideal chance for the SNP Government to invest in sport and provide adequate funding so that Councils can maintain facilities such as Meadowbank.’
The open-top parade to honour Scotland’s Olympic medallists should be re-routed to include Meadowbank.
SportScotland and the Scottish Government have rushed to organise Wednesday’s event. It is due to start at Edinburgh Castle then travel down the Royal Mile and finish at Holyrood Palace, a route that includes no sporting landmarks but ends less than a mile short of the Meadowbank velodrome which Chris Hoy credits for his achievements.
Much of the crowd will be coming to acclaim Hoy, whose three Gold medals in Beijing made him Scotland’s most successful Olympian of all time and the first Brit in 100 years to win that many Golds in a single Games.
Allister Watson of the East of Scotland Cycling Association said: “Chris Hoy is Scotland’s most successful Olympian with four cycling gold medals. The parade should include his Meadowbank track. It’s like a football team winning the cup but having a parade that misses its ground. Wednesday is a popular night for track cycling at Meadowbank. It would be a marvellous chance for the stars of tomorrow to meet their hero.”
Bill Walker, senior athletic coach at Meadowbank, said people from other sports would also be interested in seeing the parade but now won’t be able to because of its route. “This route has clearly been devised by a non sports person. It’s meant to honour successful Olympians but doesn’t include any sporting landmarks. I know many youngsters in my club would want to see the Olympians and would have been able to do so had the route included Meadowbank.”
Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor added: “Chris Hoy became Scotland’s most successful Olympian in Beijing. The plans should clearly include the velodrome which played a prominent part in his success. It would be easy to include a stop at Meadowbank.”
Meadowbank is due to be demolished and downsized because its owners, Edinburgh Council, say they cannot afford to refurbish it. Thousands have objected to this, including Chris Hoy who gave the Save Meadowbank campaign his backing in a video released last week.
Campaigners are petitioning the Scottish Government to provide the funding for sports facilities such as Meadowbank.
Meadowbank is a national facility with great role models and needs to be saved for the sake of our children, according to Eric Easton, a teacher at Portobello High School.
For the past couple of years he has taken children to the velodrome for taster sessions. “I take the kids to Meadowbank because it is the only national facility within the school catchment,” he explains. “Scottish Cycling and the Edinburgh Racers have gone out of their way to accommodate us.”
“I recently took eight S1 kids there on a Friday afternoon in my own time. The first person they met was Chris Hoy. For Portobello kids to meet an Olympian and multiple world champion was magnificent. They have a role model and a facility where they live. The velodrome needs a little TLC but it is loved and they can see the facility is good enough to take them to the top.
“I have tried to encourage more children at my school to take up cycling. I would love to be able to take more groups of kids there and introduce them to the sport.
“Edinburgh isn’t blessed with many champions or national facilities. Children and youth will lose another facility if the decision to build yet more flats goes ahead.”
Triple Olympic medallist Chris Hoy has given his backing to the campaign to save Meadowbank from closure.
The most successful Scottish Olympian of all time learned his craft in his home town of Edinburgh and readily admits he wouldn’t have achieved his record haul had it not been for the Meadowbank velodrome. Yet Edinburgh Council plan to ignore thousands of objections and demolish the velodrome – plus the neighbouring international athletics stadium and sports centre – and replace it with a cut-down complex that doesn’t cater for most of its current sports, including cycling.
In the video clip, produced by Edinburgh Racers, Chris Hoy said: “Elite sport cannot stand alone without local facilities giving kids the chance to get into the sport in the first place. I really hope Edinburgh is going to continue to produce world champion cyclists in the future but we cannot do this without a local facility.”
Mark Barry, director of youth racing in Manchester, added: “This is a track that has been absolutely fundamental in the success of the Great Britain cycling team. Most of our world, Olympic and European champions have come from here.”
The video highlights the lack of proper investment since the Meadowbank track was built forty years ago and the absence of a roof, which causes several events to be rained off every year.
Allister Watson, director of Scottish Cycling, made a telling comparison between Scotland’s top two medal-winning sports: “Cycling is Scotland’s second most successful Commonwealth Games sport. The most successful sport is swimming. I wonder how our swimmers would get on if there was only one swimming pool for the country and it was outside.”
Save Meadowbank spokesman Kevin Connor welcomed the video. He said: “Chris Hoy is a great role model and proof of what Meadowbank has helped achieve. Imperfect facilities are better than no facilities at all. Edinburgh Council claim they are being forced to radically downscale Meadowbank purely on financial grounds. If that is the case we call upon the Scottish Government to provide them with adequate funding.”
SMC submitted this document in response to a Dec 2007 Edinburgh Council report recommending that Councillors agree to fund a small centre by selling off a huge chunk of the Meadowbank site for housing. Their report entirely ignored the interests of cyclists. Councillors went on to agree to the sell-off including the loss of the velodrome.
See this Evening News Mouthpiece article by Save Meadowbank written in the days after Edinburgh Council voted to rid Edinburgh of its velodome back in March. Significant sections were edited out by the newspaper, including the total omission of the case for the Meadowbank Velodrome. The original uncensored article can be seen here, with the censored elements in CAPITAL LETTERS.
Edinburgh Council should follow the lead set by an English town and rename a popular sports facility in honour of its Olympic hero.
Mansfield Council is to refurbish and rename its swimming pool in honour of double Olympic winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who learned to swim in the town’s Sherwood Baths.
“We’re going to rename the baths in her honour,” said Mansfield’s mayor Tony Egginton. “It can be Rebecca Adlington’s baths or Becky’s. Whatever she wants. We’re really proud of her – and the way our leisure facilities here have given her a hand.”
Chris Hoy became Scotland’s most successful Olympian of all-time when he won his third Gold medal in Beijing. He learned his craft in his home town of Edinburgh and readily admits he wouldn’t have achieved his record haul had it not been for the Meadowbank velodrome. Yet Edinburgh Council plan to demolish the velodrome – and the neighbouring international stadium – and replace it with a cut-down complex that doesn’t cater for most of its current sports, including cycling.
The Council has decided to proceed with its plan despite thousands of objections. Kevin Connor, spokesman for the Save Meadowbank campaign, describes the decision as “embarrassing and an insult to Scotland’s most successful Olympian”. He thinks Scotland’s capital city should follow Mansfield’s lead and rename the Meadowbank velodrome.
He said: “Mansfield Council has decided to refurbish and rename its swimming pool in honour of their Olympic medalist. Edinburgh Council plan to demolish the velodrome where Chris Hoy started his career. The contrast couldn’t be clearer. It’s embarrassing and an insult to Scotland’s most successful Olympian. Surely the Capital city of Scotland can at least match the ambition of Mansfield. We call on Edinburgh Council to retain the cycling velodrome at Meadowbank and rename it in honour of Chris Hoy.”
Chris Hoy has given his personal backing to the Save Meadowbank campaign. In a recent article in Scotland on Sunday he wrote: “If Meadowbank hadn’t existed there is no question that I wouldn’t be where I am today or Craig MacLean for that matter.
“Without the grassroots introduction to the sport, there will be a whole generation of kids that won’t have the opportunity to try out track cycling and one or two could have gone on to become Olympic or world champions.
“The future of the sport depends on there being a facility and I fear for the future of Scottish cycling. There is expertise in Edinburgh that’s been built up over 40 years and that will all be lost if Meadowbank isn’t replaced. But it is politicians and not sportspeople who make these decisions, and sometimes it is a shame that we do not have more of a voice.”