Updated: Monday, 18th February 2019 @ 10:37am

Chris Hoy criticism leads to British Cycling BMX youth competition U-turn

Chris Hoy criticism leads to British Cycling BMX youth competition U-turn

| By Lewis Chapman-Barker

British Cycling has decided to review changes to the BMX youth competition structure proposed at the start of the month following criticism from several corners of the cycling community.

The organisation, based at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, announced that cyclists under 13 would no longer be able to take part in ranked competitions nationally or internationally.

The decision was met by scepticism from several corners of Britain’s cycling community, including Olympian Chris Hoy, who voiced his disapproval on Twitter.

​British Cycling has now decided to review their decision to focus solely on riders over the age of 13, which the organisation said was aimed at helping young riders focus on fun rather than competition.

Responding to the feedback, British Cycling president Bob Howden said: “It is important to emphasise that British Cycling wholeheartedly believes that competition is a good thing.

“We believe that competitive sport is a healthy part of children's development - winning and losing is after all an essential life skill - and the changes approved by the Board ensure that there will still be the same number of opportunities for children of all ages to compete across all disciplines.”

British Cycling has now said that they will review the initial changes along with the feedback they have received before introducing them, which they intend to phase in over the next three years.

Mr Howden added that: “The over-riding principle is that for children aged 12 or under, the focus should be on building a lifelong passion for cycling through the development of skills and competition at a local level without the pressure to perform on a bigger stage.”

Should the changes come in, riders under the age of 13 will no longer be able to participate in national series, hold a national rank, or compete internationally.

“Young riders are still very much encouraged to compete, with the same incentives for the victors of winning podium places, medals and trophies that there always has been in sport,” Mr Howden continued.

“But each event should be considered in isolation without the added time or financial pressure of having to compete in many events across the country in a National Series.”

He also conceded that the changes that were planned were anticipated to affect the BMX team more than other areas, but re-assured riders that they would carefully consider their options.

Mr Howden said that: “We recognise that these changes will have a significant impact on BMX in particular and I want to reassure the BMX community that we will be considering all the feedback we have received.

“We acknowledge that there are some areas that need to be looked at in more detail and that further work will be undertaken by the Board and Commission and further updates provided before the end of the current season.”

The changes initially planned echo those already implemented by the FA, where the focus has shifted away from competition at the early stages in order to encourage enjoyment of the game.

Mr Howden explained that: “British Cycling’s Board approved changes in the youth competition structure across all cycling disciplines to make the sport as a whole more accessible and a better and more appropriate experience for all young people.

“This shift in our approach seeks to encourage children and their parents to choose cycling as an activity they can easily access and enjoy at the start of what will hopefully be a long term passion for the sport.”

British Cycling continues to encourage feedback, and they ask that any comments on the proposed changes be sent to: youthworkgroup@britishcycling.org.uk.

Full details of the changes can be found on the British Cycling by clicking here.

Image courtesy of SportsBeat, with thanks.