Success? Show us your medals

WHEN Sir Chris Hoy headed Great Britain's gold medal rush in the Track World Cup in Manchester recently, so the chiefs of British Cycling no doubt nodded with satisfaction.

WHEN Sir Chris Hoy headed Great Britain's gold medal rush in the Track World Cup in Manchester recently, so the chiefs of British Cycling no doubt nodded with satisfaction.

The fruits of their planning, their enduring determination to succeed, and to reach the very top, is now evident for all to see.

In a country where sporting success is too easily frowned upon, and on the world stage is rare, British Cycling has gone against the grain.

Success, medals, success, medals, and more success and medals, has seen the sport of cycling - in all its guises - become ever-more popular with the masses and even more cool with the kids.

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British Cycling is proving the perfect way to show how a sport needs to position itself.

Gain your success at the top and watch the trickle-effect develop. And while it is not all about Hoy, Pendleton, Wiggins and heaps of gold medals, there is little doubt that Olympic and World success has played a major role in the popularity of the two-wheeled sport, both competitively and as a leisure pursuit.

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Put simply, British Cycling has taken its key riders and helped them reach the top of the world stage, while at the same time encouraging and developing the General Public to take up cycling.

Indeed, British Cycling membership now stands at 28,500, up more than 75% in just four years, their aim is for 100,000 members by 2013. How many sports bodies can boast that percentage increase in recent times?

Commercially savvy - they have just tied up a deal with BSkyB - British Cycling is the umbrella for almost all forms of the sport in this country.

So whether you are racing in a BMX, mountain biking, or cycle speedway national final, or participating in a cyclo-cross major event, road racing or track racing at the highest level, you are governed by British Cycling. And while that competitive edge has been key to its success, British Cycling is also playing a less energetic part in the promotion of its sport.

With people more conscious about their health and the economics of making short journeys in cars now being questioned, cycling is not only seen as competitive, but also recreational.

It is something British Cycling is set to seize upon, as spokeswoman Iga Kowalska-Owen admitted.

“British Cycling has been very competition focussed,” she said.

“And although that won't change, we want to build a complete awareness of the sport. We want to capture all types of bike enthusiasts.”

Skyride is the latest idea to roll off the British Cycling ideas line.

Throughout the summer, Skyride has seen mass-participation cycling events in five cities, Manchester, Hounslow, Glasgow, Leicester and London, where the streets have been closed to other traffic and cyclists take over, riding at recreational pace.

It's another example of British Cycling bringing cycling to the masses. From Hoy and Wiggins to the very grass roots of the sport, British Cycling's vision and determination in wanting nothing less than the best, has shown many sporting associations how it should be done.

One suspects the best from British Cycling is still yet to come.

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