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.”