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Highland Arena could create new cycling champ

By Neil MacPhail

A HOME-grown Olympic cyclist is a possibility if the dream of a velodrome in Inverness becomes a reality.

This is according to Scots Olympic champion Katie Archibald who is helping promote HiVelo, the charitable trust behind ambitious plans to build a £15 million sports arena and 200m cycle track at Inverness Campus.

She began her career on the famous Meadowbank track in Edinburgh which as since been leaving Scotland with only the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome in Glasgow.

The HiVelo board will hear tonight how the project is going.

It was recently revived with plans to create a new multi-sports arena at the Inverness Campus after previous efforts to secure backing for plans at Bught Park and Tornagrain faltered.

Katie Archibald, who had been due to speak at HiVelo’s AGM last month but was unable to travel north due to the weather, said: “I believe that if you build a velodrome in Inverness then in 10 or 20 years you will have an Olympian from up there.

“Once upon a time Edinburgh had the only velodrome in the UK and, surprise, surprise, Chris Hoy and Craig MacLean were the best cyclists in the country, and both were from Edinburgh.

“In 1994, the Manchester velodrome opens. Jason Kenny is on that track by the time he’s 10, and today he’s Britain’s joint most successful Olympian.

“It’s so explicit, the connection between the facility and the success.”

She said the Scottish competitive cycling programme based in Glasgow has been good from an elite perspective but it was also important to provide more locally for people who may just be getting started.

Archibald added: “People who take it very seriously will travel down from the Highlands but for people for whom it’s just a casual affair ,they won’t make that journey,”she said.

Mike Greaves, secretary of HiVelo, said: “There are no basic facilities for track riding up here just now.

“If you’re a rising talent you need to be in Glasgow, Manchester or further afield. So it will be great to have a second velodrome in Scotland.”

Katie Archibald hopes to visit the project soon.

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