Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg hails Manchester as cycling ‘mecca’ during Velodrome visit

By Hannah Hulme

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, hailed Manchester as a ‘mecca’ for cycling during a visit to the National Cycling Centre today.

The Lib Dem leader praised the lasting sporting legacy created by the facilities in Manchester after meeting coaches, youngsters and amateur enthusiasts at the centre and Moss Side Fire Station Gym.

The National Cycling Centre houses a velodrome and BMX track and is home to some of the most successful cycling names from the London 2012 Olympics.

Regular users of the track including gold medal winners Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton.

Mr Clegg, who will later travel to Old Trafford for the Brazil v South Korea men’s football semi-final, said Manchester should be ‘immensely proud’ of the sporting superstars they have produced.

“It’s not only exciting to see where these heroes trained and perfected their skills, but also that we now see a lot of youngsters who have come here, excited about what they’ve seen on the TV, to try out bicycling in this velodrome themselves,” he said.

“Who knows, maybe they’ll be the champions of the future!”

Today Great Britain eclipsed it’s achievement at the Beijing 2008 Olympics by beating its total of 19 gold medals. 

Mr Clegg said the legacy of London 2012 would impact first and foremost on the next generation.

He said the Olympic efforts would teach children: “With hard work, discipline and application you can achieve great things.”

He added: “When I was a kid I was used to us being towards the bottom, or certainly further down the table so it shows what a transformation there has been and that’s because of places like this.”

When quizzed about the cuts to schemes like the Schools Sports Partnership, and the sale of schools sports pitches, Mr Clegg insisted the government intended to invest in the future of British sport.

“I think it’s actually a real triumph that the investments that have been made into sports over the years have led to Team GB now delivering its best avalanche of medals in living memory,” he said.

“We are absolutely determined as a government to make sure that while yes there are savings we have to make, we can work with schools, sports organisations and the National Lottery, to make sure that sport is properly supported and I’m absolutely sure that’s what will happen.”

As well as offering facilities for elite athletes, the National Cycling Centre is also open to all levels of ability offering sessions to anyone seeking to experience the sport including local schoolchildren, novices and enthusiasts.

Jarl Walsh, General Manager of the National Cycling Centre said: “We are very proud of the vital role that the National Cycling Centre has played in the success of our GB track athletes at the London Olympics.

“As the training venue for the GB team, we have been privileged to witness at first hand the hard work and dedication they have committed to becoming the best in the world, and it is very gratifying to see them do so well.”

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