Britain's greatest ever Olympian, Sir Chris Hoy, today became the first cyclist to ride the stunning new indoor velodrome named in his honour in Glasgow’s East End.
The six-time Olympic gold medallist and 11-time world champion was making his first visit to the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome ahead of its official opening this Friday. The facility is Scotland's only indoor velodrome and puts Glasgow in an elite group of cities home to world-class cycling facilities.
Glasgow City Council announced in 2008 that the velodrome would be named after Sir Chris Hoy following his outstanding performances at the Beijing Olympic Games that year. Construction of the venue commenced in January 2010, with the internationally renowned designer Ralf Schuermann starting work to build the velodrome track in March this year.
Schuermann is regarded as one of the world’s top velodrome designers. To date he has built over 140 velodromes including the 2008 Olympic Games cycling venue in Beijing. The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is his latest creation. It has a permanent capacity for 2,000 seated and 500 standing spectators, which can be increased to 4,000 seats during major events.
With work now complete Sir Chris was given the honour of being the first cyclist to ride the velodrome named in his honour. Afterwards he said: "It was a very special feeling to ride the track for the first time today. To have this velodrome named after me is a huge honour and something that I am very proud of.
"I have been fortunate to ride in the world's best velodromes and I can tell that this venue is going to be very special. It has a fantastic design and feels like it's going to be very fast. I'm looking forward to coming back for the world cup as a spectator - it will be great to see the riders perform in front of a packed crowd.
"This velodrome will make such a difference to cycling in Scotland. It will be the new home of cycling in this country and will hopefully help to inspire the next generation of cyclists."
The Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and the Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games, Councillor Archie Graham, said: "Seeing our greatest Olympian on the velodrome named in his honour for the first time will be remembered as one of the great moments in Glasgow's proud sporting history. It was yet another historic moment for Sir Chris.
"We are fast approaching what will be one of the most exciting periods in Scottish sporting history and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome will be at the very heart of this. As well as hosting genuinely world-class events this venue will be open for community use and I can’t wait to see local people use it week in, week out. That will be the real legacy of this venue.”
Glasgow 2014 Chief Executive David Grevemberg said: "Sir Chris Hoy is a marvellous ambassador for sport and for Glasgow 2014. It is an honour to see him become the first person to cycle in this wonderful velodrome today, which is aptly named after him as Britain's greatest Olympian.
"In less than two years' time, millions of people around the world will witness the best sportsmen and women from around the Commonwealth competing here. Track cycling provided some of the great and memorable dramas of London 2012 and there's no doubt that this velodrome will create a fantastic setting for records to be broken and medals to be won as part of an outstanding Commonwealth Games."
Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, Shona Robison, said: ““Following on from a great summer of sport, we are fast approaching the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, and seeing Sir Chris open a velodrome named in his honour is the icing on the cake.
“The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is a worthy addition to Glasgow’s already world class sporting venues and I look forward to everyone being able to come and enjoy this brand new velodrome.”
Chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, Michael Cavanagh, said: “As well as our greatest Olympian, Chris has always been a fantastic ambassador for Commonwealth Games Scotland winning two gold and two bronze medals. It is fitting that Glasgow has named the velodrome named in his honour and that he is the first cyclist to ride on the track.
"We would love to see him compete for Team Scotland one final time in 2014, but we know that whatever capacity he is involved in the Games he will continue to be a true inspiration to others both on and off the field of play.”
When open, the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome will be home to a world-class events programme including the track cycling events at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. It will host the Scottish Track Cycling Championships in October, November’s UCI Track World Cup and the Revolution Series in February next year. Demand for tickets for these events is already proving exceptionally high with the public allocation for the UCI Track World Cup selling out in just 25 minutes.