Star names aiming to inspire
Matt Crampton, Jason Kenny and Shanaze Reade are hoping the Sky Track Cycling team will inspire the next generation of cyclists.
Last Updated: 15/02/11 1:56pm
Matt Crampton, Jason Kenny and Shanaze Reade are hoping the Sky Track Cycling team will inspire the next generation of cyclists and help their title sponsor achieve their goal of getting one million more people riding their bikes by 2013.
Crampton and Kenny both grew up in and around the city of Manchester and were motivated to take up the sport when the velodrome opened its doors in 1994.
After taking their first tentative turns on the boards they quickly became hooked and benefitted greatly from being able to witness the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean and Jason Queally achieving great things at such close quarters.
And now they have reached the pinnacle of the sport as well, they are hoping to enthuse more up-and-coming riders and ensure track cycling goes from strength-to-strength in the future.
Crampton for instance, admits that having the velodrome at such close quarters made a huge difference, and reveals just how pivotal it was when he was taking his first steps into the sport.
"I used to ride around on a BMX with my friends," Crampton recalls. "But when I was 14 I was working at a local bike shop and they recommended going to the Manchester Velodrome.
"My dad was into cycling, just for keeping fit, so we went along. I did the tasters' session, really enjoyed it, and not long after joined a club.
"I didn't start as a pure sprinter, even though I did have a good finish, but did lots of road cycling as well.
"When I got to 16 I started performing well in the sprints but began to struggle in the more endurance-based disciplines.
"That was at the same time as Chris, Craig and Jason were coming through and winning world titles and they were a massive inspiration.
"I remember doing the junior national championships in Newport during the Athens Olympics. I got back one night to watch the kilo. It was an incredible race, and Chris won of course. I found it really exciting when I went back to race the next day. Now it's just a real privilege to train and race with him."
Like Crampton, Kenny is a prime example of the way the Velodrome has helped local riders fulfil their potential. He grew up in nearby Bolton and had his first outing on the track at the age of 11.
"I went along and had a go because I fancied it," he says. "I joined the Eastlands Velo club, rode once a week, then got on the [British Cycling] Talent Team and progressed from there."
And it is not solely on the track where the team are aiming to inspire; as well as being a two-time team sprint world champion, Shanaze Reade is also one of the world's best female BMX riders and has held the rainbow jersey three times in that discipline as well.
Her influence on that sport in the UK has been unrivalled and her past successes played a huge part in the decision to build a new indoor BMX arena right next to the Manchester Velodrome.
The 22-year-old could only have dreamed of such facilities when she first took up the sport but is delighted future generations of riders will now have a world-class facility which will help them reach the top.
"For people in Manchester it's absolutely huge. It's going to make it so easy for young people - and older riders too - to get into BMX and that can only lead to great things in the future.
"Whether those riders decide to focus solely on BMX or branch out like I did, the arena will provide a fantastic access point."