Give People a Sporting Chance
By Megan Smiley, Jul 11 2014 09:25AM
Living in London you can become a little nonchalant about all the amazing opportunities on offer, I know I have. When I moved to London over six years ago I had a list as long as my arm of things I was going to do. I have slowly ticked off quite a few of them but there are still plenty of things on there too. However, when I visited Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that opened to the public in April this year, I saw people trying out the track in the Velodrome and upon realising that they were on a 'track taster session' that anyone can do for a very reasonable £30, this jumped to the top of my 'things to do in London' list.
The hour long session was as good as I had hoped. The mix of anticipation and nerves about cycling a fixed wheel bike with my feet strapped in so tightly that I wouldn't be about to put a foot down in a panicky moment on a wooden track with banks that seem a lot higher up close, disappeared as soon as I started cycling. The instructor was great and the group of about 15, a mix of ages and abilities, were all made to feel comfortable and encouraged to the right level to get the most out of the session.
I loved every bit of it, especially towards the end of the session when I was up by the fence at the top on the bank looking down at the beautifully crafted wooden track thinking about the stars who have cycled on it, albeit a little faster than I was going, but the same track nevertheless!
My only criticism is the fact that Better, the organisation who run the leisure facilities at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and other sports facilities across London, aren’t shouting about this and the other opportunities available at the park: day passes for the Aquatic Centre or the gym in the Cooper Box both only £10, as well as the new Hockey and Tennis Centre that boasts indoor and outdoor courts and pitches.
Sport can be expensive and therefore elitist, however, here is a great example of where it isn't. It's accessible and pretty reasonably priced, this opens doors for 'normal' people to try out world class facilities without having to be one of the best swimmers in the country or know the boss of British Cycling!
There has been much talk of the legacy of London 2012 and a lot of negativity towards the lack of momentum post the Games. With unanswered questions such as: are more girls being encouraged to play sport, and are underprivileged children receiving opportunities to develop their sporting skills still prevalent, then we should really be promoting facilities like the ones at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and getting people excited about sport like they were two summers' ago. Something along the lines of 'if you've got it flaunt it' springs to mind!