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Page last updated at 21:52 GMT, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Sir Steve Redgrave planning winter sports base

Great Britain"s Elise Christie in 1000m heats
Redgrave believes a purpose built centre would boost Britain's medal haul

By Lewis Wiltshire
BBC Sport in Vancouver

Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave wants to build a long-track speed skating venue in the UK - and house other winter sports in the centre of it.

Redgrave, the vice-president of the British Olympic Association, is in Vancouver, where Team GB's only medal has been Amy Williams' skeleton gold.

Britain's five-time Olympic gold medallist is now starting to talk with potential private funding donors.

"A third of your medal chances could be under one roof," Redgrave said.

Speaking at a briefing for British media in Vancouver on Thursday, the former Olympic rower recalled how he was "taken aback" by the long-track speed skating venue he saw in Salt Lake City at the 2002 Winter Olympics, which had training facilities for other ice sports at its centre.


"Why haven't we got anything like this?" said Redgrave.

"Nicky Gooch [GB speed skating coach and bronze medallist at the 1994 Games] and the athletes say they get, at best, two hours of track time a day.

"Obviously it is a huge undertaking to have a big warehouse like that but it would be giving our athletes the opportunity to not have to scrimp and save in their hours."

Redgrave said Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, who won figure skating gold for Britain at the 1984 Winter Olympics, were able to become world-class competitors because they moved to Nottingham, after the city offered them use of a rink to get more practice than they were able to find elsewhere.

GB director of Olympic performance Sir Clive Woodward and Sir Steve Redgrave
GB officials have been learning lessons in Vancouver

"I have spoken to a couple of sponsors, but the big issue is capital. UK Sport said if I can find the funds for the capital build they could run it," he added.

"I am speaking to key donors and will speak to all the governing bodies when I get back. To me, it just seems like moving the sports in the right direction.

"My idea is you concentrate on an area where we can be the world's best. We were not very good at track cycling until we built the Manchester Velodrome."

Redgrave also wants to attract athletes from summer sports, who might not reach Olympics status in those disciplines, to the Winter Olympics sports.

Canada's Clara Hughes has won Olympic medals in cycling and speed skating - suggesting the sports are interchangeable at the top level.

Rebecca Romero of Great Britain has won medals in rowing and cycling, and has also hinted that speed skating would appeal to her.

Redgrave said: "There are people now who will never, ever get on to the cycling team but who would walk on to any other team. Why not get them to try another sport?"

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see also
Team GB chiefs defend medal tally
25 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Redgrave is named '2012 Champion'
02 Oct 09 |  Olympics
Why GB is so good at skeleton
22 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
GB's Williams slides to skeleton gold
20 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
Day-by-day guide to the Winter Olympics
26 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Winter Olympics weather
26 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010

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