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Page last updated at 22:34 GMT, Monday, 25 August 2008 23:34 UK

Hoy slams closure of city track

Chris Hoy
Hoy was one of Britain's outstanding performers in Beijing

Chris Hoy has accused Edinburgh City Council of lacking foresight in their plans to demolish the city's velodrome.

Hoy, a triple Olympic gold medallist in Beijing, began his track cycling career as a teenager at Meadowbank's facility.

"I would not be sitting here with three gold medals, or any gold medals around my neck if there hadn't been a facility in Edinburgh," said Hoy.

"It's very short-sighted, but hopefully there can be some pressure put on them from the successes in Beijing."

The 32-year-old won the individual sprint, the team sprint and the keirin to become only the second Briton to win three golds at the same Games after swimmer Henry Taylor did likewise in London in 1908.

Edinburgh local council plans to demolish the velodrome, part of the sports complex at Meadowbank Stadium, and replace it with a "downsized" sports venue.

To demolish a track in Edinburgh means there's a whole crop of young riders who are never going to get the chance to try out the sport

Chris Hoy
Hoy has joined an organised appeal to save the facility, speaking in a webcast video produced by Edinburgh Racers which is fighting to save the 16,000 capacity athletics stadium and sports complex.

"Obviously, there's a new track being built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow," Hoy continued, in reference to the new National Velodrome being named in his honour.

"But to demolish a track in Edinburgh means there's a whole crop of young riders who are never going to get the chance to try out the sport.

"You know even, just for fun, not necessarily to go on to become an elite performer, but just to enjoy the sport of cycling."

And Hoy insists the Government must get behind British sport at all levels to maintain the record-breaking success of Great Britain's athletes in Beijing.

"We need support not just at an elite level but also facilities to encourage youngsters to take up sport," Hoy said.

"Not just for the Olympics but for the general well-being of the nation."

But Hoy refused to back a call by actor Sir Sean Connery for a separate Scottish Olympic team.

He has previously been quoted as describing a Scottish team as "ridiculous".

"Scotland is part of Britain, they are not mutually exclusive; I'm a proud Scot and I'm a very proud Brit as well," Hoy said.


"In terms of Scotland becoming an Olympic nation by itself, I think there needs to be a lot more investment in sport up there in terms of facilities again."

Connery backed the idea, also favoured by First Minister Alex Salmond, on Monday as he launched his memoirs on his 78th birthday.

"Scotland should always be a stand-alone nation at whatever, I believe," the actor said at the Edinburgh Book Festival.

But at a press conference later to mark the British Olympians' return, Hoy underlined his British and Scottish credentials.

"I have been very proud to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games and that's something I will always cherish, and I will hopefully compete again in future years," Hoy said.

"But today is about the British team, really, and we are here to celebrate that."

see also
Call for Scottish Olympics team
24 Aug 08 |  Scotland
Salmond rejects UK football team
25 Aug 08 |  Scotland
Olympic parade for Scottish stars
22 Aug 08 |  Scotland
Team GB's roll of honour
23 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Brown meets triple gold hero Hoy
22 Aug 08 |  UK Politics
Velodrome honour for golden Hoy
19 Aug 08 |  Scotland
Hoy clinches historic third gold
19 Aug 08 |  Cycling
Knighthood call for golden Hoy
17 Aug 08 |  Scotland
Awesome GB sprint team take gold
15 Aug 08 |  Cycling

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