Sunday 17 August 2008

It's not cricket!

Look, lets stop fooling ourselves. The London and Edinburgh velodromes have both been sold off to developers - the London one, supposedly, to help pay for the Olympics. We have Chris Hoy because when he was developing in the sport there was a velodrome in Scotland for him to learn the ropes. Now there isn't - so where is the next Chris Hoy coming from?

There's someone else from Scotland who should have been winning medals for us at this Olympics. Jason McIntyre should have been doing for us in the man's time trial what Emma Pooley did so brilliantly in the women's. But Jason couldn't be there - because some careless motorist killed him while he was out training this spring (and was fined a derisory five hundred pounds in punishment).

Cycling doesn't have too much spent on it. Cycling doesn't have nearly enough spent on it. Every medium sized town has an Olympic size swimming pool. Every city has a running track. And we have one - count them, one - indoor velodrome in the whole country. In no other of our elite sports do we turn promising young athletes out onto the roads to battle it out with speeding motorists too busy with their mobile phones to pay attention to where they're going.

And yet half of all Britain's gold medals this year have come from cycling. Half. As many as all other sports put together. And there are more to come - Victoria Pendleton, Mark Cavendish and Shanaze Reade haven't even started yet.

So no - it isn't cricket. It isn't dull and tedious and arcane. It's epic and explosive and tactical and colourful and glorious. And we're good at it. So for heaven's sake get behind our cyclists and support them. Because if you think this is good, you ain't seen nothing yet.

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