Hoy predicts bright future
Olympian opens new Commonwealth velodrome
Last Updated: 03/10/12 10:29am
Hoy: Taking in the new track named in his honour
Sir Chris Hoy believes the next generation of cycling champions can come from Scotland after cycling the first lap of the Commonwealth Games velodrome named in his honour.
Britain's most successful Olympian was at the venue in the east end of Glasgow to see it for the first time since its completion.
Along with the National Indoor Sports Arena, the velodrome officially opens on Friday but Sir Chris was allowed in early to try out the 250m timber track.
He said: "It's just fantastic. It's amazing to be here to finally see it in the flesh.
"I've seen lots of pictures of it and I was here a number of years ago when it was just a load of wasteland and to see the scale of it now is fantastic.
"It's great fun to ride on, very smooth, very quick. So I think there's going to be some great racing here."
Outside the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the entire £113 million development will be known as the Emirates Arena after a sponsorship deal was agreed last week.
The velodrome has a 2,500 capacity which can be extended to 4,000 for major events. It is the only indoor track in Scotland, something that Sir Chris believes is key to the development of future athletes.
He said: "To have this facility here now in Scotland, it guarantees the future of track cycling for the country because until this point we've only had Meadowbank and Caird Park and they are both outdoor tracks, so as soon as it rains you can't use them.
"And through the winter months they are shut and that means young athletes getting into the sport don't get the chance to progress, and the guys at the elite level can't train for the full year.
"But having this velodrome means that we now have a chance to really develop the sport, to host major championships, to train future champions and to let schoolkids and club-level cyclists come down, try it out and enjoy it.
"It's not just about producing champions, it's about getting more people interested and involved in the sport and enjoying it, and that's what can happen here."
Since winning his sixth Olympic gold medal at London 2012 the 36-year-old has said he wants to compete at Glasgow 2014 but will wait to see if he stays injury-free at the top of the sport before making a final decision.
Asked if cycling round the velodrome made him want to compete in the Commonwealth Games more than ever, he said: "No, not really. I mean, I couldn't want to compete any more than I do already.
"Being here today you can visualise it, you get a sense of what the Games are going to be like.
"In your mind's eye you can see the place full of spectators and feel the atmosphere and the noise and I think it's going to be a spectacular venue.
"But in terms of me competing, I've always had the same desire. It's just whether my body is up to it or not, that's the big question.
"It would be fantastic to compete here in front of a home crowd and it would be a great way to end my career."
Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg was at the velodrome to welcome Sir Chris and described the venue as a "world-class arena" that can be used by everyone.
"I think the ambition around the Games is as great as, or even greater than, the Games itself.
"And I think one of the things a facility like this presents is a hub of sport, a place that really beacons people to come to it, whether it's spectating or participating.
"This type of facility builds an enormous amount of pride. It will be used by local people but also allows world-class athletes to prepare at optimum level and I think, from that perspective, it has a little bit for everyone."