20/05/2012

The campaign for an athletics and cycle track for Aberystwyth


The campaign for an athletics and cycling track in Aberystwyth is growing pace.

Ceredigion is one of the few counties in Britain that has no standard-sized athletics track whatsoever. This prevents the further development of the otherwise very healthy town and university athletics scenes, the university having long outgrown the two-lane track on their Penglais campus.

Those who began looking to set up a campaign for an athletics track soon found that cycling locally is in a similar position.

While cycling is a growing sport in Wales, with mountain biking  being particularly popular, there are severe limitations for other aspects of the sport with the only indoor velodrome being in Newport, Gwent. Aberystwyth's Ysywyth Cycling Club is restricted in its development as parents are hesitant to allow children to practice racing on the roads.

Athletes and cyclists therefore decided to get together to work on a joint campaign for an athletics and cycling track for Aberystwyth which could then serve as a venue for the whole of Mid Wales.

Of course, at the end of July, the eyes of the world will be on the London 2012 Olympics (67 days, 21 hours and 32 minutes away, their website tells me at the time of this post). The heralded Olympic flame is due to arrive on-stage at Vicarage Fields in Aberystwyth at exactly 6.51pm on Sunday 27th May (they’re obviously a bit obsessive about their timings, these Olympians. It must be all that trying to shave a tenth of a second off their personal best). 

The games are the recipient of a vast amount of money for sporting facilities in London and the organisers have repeatedly spoken of creating, ‘a sporting legacy for the whole of Britain’. The Aberystwyth campaign agrees with this wholeheartedly and hopes that now is therefore exactly the right time to put its case for the development of sporting facilities in what is one of Britain’s most deprived regions in terms of sporting opportunities.

The Aberystwyth proposal is for a fully-lit six-lane 400m all-weather running track, with an eight-lane sprint and hurdle straight, encircled by a 500m cycle track at Penweddig School in Aberystwyth.

The town has already proved it's able to put on large-scale sporting events. This development would be the first of its kind in Wales, and would be a cost-effective way of delivering hubs for two sports within  mid Wales. The proposed site is in close proximity to the town and would have the potential to boost local businesses and generally strengthen the pull of the town in a wide area.

An organisation has now been set up to progress the idea – Partneriaeth Athletau a Seiclo Canolbarth Cymru / Mid Wales Cycle and Athletics Partnership (PASCC)

The campaign is supported by a variety of organisations in the area and beyond, including Sport Wales and the Urdd. Support was included in the local election manifestos of both Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems.

You can help the campaign by signing the petition on this link.

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