Chris Hoy: Velodrome threat will make trophy meaningless

EDINBURGH cycling star Chris Hoy says a new award in his name will become "meaningless" if the Meadowbank velodrome is not replaced.

City council chiefs are to create the Chris Hoy Trophy – an annual award for the most promising young track cyclist in the Capital.

But the Olympic, World and Commonwealth medal winner today warned there would be nobody to claim it unless youngsters had decent training facilities.

Many of Edinburgh's young cyclists train at the demolition-threatened velodrome, where Hoy started his own career.

He said: "I am obviously delighted and proud that they have decided to create this award in my name, but it is tinged with sadness because I don't know what facilities the next generation of cyclists will have.

"These awards may be not be very meaningful in a few years if there are no proper facilities for people to train on.

"It is a shame because it is a fantastic gesture on the part of the council, but I do worry about the future of the sport for people in the east of Scotland."

Last month, councillors voted to bulldoze Meadowbank and sell a third of the land for development. A new 25 million sports complex would be built on the remainder of the site – where the velodrome currently stands.

The council says it will consult cycling groups about providing a replacement training facility, but no firm plans have been forthcoming so far. Mr Hoy's father, David said: "I have mixed feelings on this award to be honest.

"It is great that the council are looking to recognise local talent like this, and Chris is obviously thrilled to have it named after him. But it is ironic the policy decisions of the current council look set to undermine the great flow of talent we have had coming through.

"There are dozens of kids who have the drive and talent to be recognised by this award, and we will be fine for the next couple of years. But it will begin to dry up once the velodrome goes and the nearest alternative is in Glasgow."

The recipient of the Chris Hoy Trophy will be decided by a panel of judges, including the cyclist himself, and presented at a civic ceremony at the end of the cycling season in September.

Evening News cycling correspondent Colin Renton said: "Anything that encourages riders to progress is great, and it is would be a fantastic boost for the youngster involved. But this award has to come with the caveat that future riders may not have anywhere to train if the Meadowbank problem is not resolved."

Councillor Deidre Brock, the city's sports leader, described Mr Hoy – who recently won two gold medals and a silver in the World Track Cycling Championships in Manchester – as one of Scotland's greatest ever athletes.

"That's why I am delighted Chris has given his endorsement to this new award, which I'm sure will become a much sought-after prize for young Scottish cyclists," she said.

A council spokesman added: "We are working to develop a brand new facility at Meadowbank – but that does not mean there isn't a future for cycling in the city."