The world’s elite mountain bikers made a welcome return to Hadleigh Country Park to pass on their top tips to young riders.
Youngsters from the Hadleigh Mountain Bike Club received one-on-one training from the GB mountain bike team at a special event at the park in Chapel Lane, Hadleigh, yesterday.
The team competed at Hadleigh Farm in August 2012 for the Olympic mountain biking event witnessed by about 40,000 sports fans from across the globe.
The event was held in preparation of the official reopening of the Olympic track in spring 2015 for public use.
It will form part of £6.8million of legacy proposals for the venue, including a new community hub, bike shop and cafe as well as 18km of new trails.
In return for exclusive use of the track this week, the GB squad including Annie Last, Grant Ferguson, Kenta Gallagher and Iain Paton, gave a coaching lesson to keen cyclists. The bike course is currently closed to the public until spring 2015, while works continue.
Pupils from Eastwood Academy, St Clere’s School, Westcliff High School, Southend High School, West Leigh Primary and Earls Hall School took part.
Hadleigh Mountain Bike Club was formed before the Games with support from Active Essex and is now fully prepared for when the course is open in 2015 with newly qualified coaches funded through Active Essex grants.
Chairman of Hadleigh MTB Chris Hyde said: “Days like this epitomise the legacy of London 2012, British Olympic athletes giving up their precious time to coach the next generation. It's truly inspirational and I'm proud to be a part of it."
Active Essex aims to increase participation and widen access to sport and physical activity for the whole community. As part of this, mountain biking has been included in the school games calendar for the past two years - with a number of children now joining local clubs.
Chairman of Active Essex, Gary Sullivan OBE said: “It is obvious to see the legacy of the London 2012 Games lives on in Essex. The Commonwealth Games later this year will continue that momentum on to Rio in 2016, by that time some of the children at Hadleigh yesterday could be of an age to compete and with a world class facility on their doorstep and the network of support from Hadleigh MTB, Active Essex, Essex County Council, British Cycling and the Salvation Army they have every chance of following their dreams.”
Children who are successful at the school games events have the opportunity to be selected for the Mud Sweat and Gears Aspire programme where a partnership of Active Essex, MSG LTD and British Cycling provide elite coaching to help them reach the next stage - to be selected for the East Region team competing in the National Youth inter regions event to be held at Hadleigh is September this year.
Essex County councillor Ann Naylor added: “We are delighted that the GB Mountain Bike squad have returned to Hadleigh to train on our fantastic facilities. I would also like to thank them for giving up their valuable time to train with young people from the Hadleigh Mountain Bike Club.
“We are extremely lucky to have this Olympic Legacy in Essex. The mountain bike course and the developments throughout the farm and park are going to create a really special place to visit. I hope everyone is looking forward to when the course officially opens to the public in Spring next year, I know I am.”
Watch a video by Echo photographer Al Underwood showing Chris Hyde and Jez Vince from Hadleigh Mountain Biking Club tackling the Hadleigh course: