Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 13:43 UK

Coe dampens mountain bike hopes

Sebastian Coe (R) with Lynn Davies
Seb Coe saw a gymnastics display at Fitzalan High School, Cardiff

London 2012 Olympics chief Sebastian Coe has quashed hopes of staging the mountain bike events in south west Wales.

On a promotional visit to Wales, he met AMs and visited Fitzalan High School in Cardiff to discuss Wales' plans to maximise opportunities at the games.

Pressure has been growing to move the events from the planned Essex venue.

But Lord Coe said they were "really working through the Essex option" and he was not looking beyond that.

"We're currently scoping another site in Essex and working painstakingly with the federation on that. It's a case of watch this site," he said.

"It's the same process that goes on pretty much for all our venues, we have to sign them all off with the international federation both in scope and in scale," the former Olympic gold medallist said.

During his visit to Cardiff, he met First Minister Rhodri Morgan, Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones and Heritage Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas.

Woman riding mountain bike
Wales has the mountains that Essex lacks, says Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price
Questions about why a new mountain bike course was planned for Essex when Wales already has courses have been raised by Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price.

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP had raised the issue in the Commons, arguing that Wales' terrain was far superior for mountain biking.

Mr Price called for the mountain biking event to be held at "excellent" facilities at Margam near Port Talbot.

An earlier proposed mountain bike course was at Weald country park in Essex, but it was criticised by inspectors from the International Cycling Union (UCI) who said it was not challenging enough.

Olympic organisers are looking at another venue within the county. The site near Benfleet stands on a hill overlooking the Thames estuary.

The competition has to be held within three hours travelling time of the Olympic village.

Lord Coe said as far back as 2004 his team had come under pressure from the International Olympic Committee to site venues closer to London.

Mountain biking was introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Games and is staged over a 40-50km (25-31m) course for men and 30-40km (18.5-25m) for women.




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