UCI chief satisfied with Rio track

Rio de Janeiro, Sep 11 (IANS) World cycling chief Brian Cookson says he is satisfied with the Rio Olympic and Paralympic velodrome though the construction of the venue was delayed numerous times during the run-up to the Games, forcing cancellation of a test event.

He also addressed a number of other issues in an interview with Xinhua at the Rio Olympic velodrome at Saturday’s midway point of the Paralympic cycling programme, including China’s cycling development, his impression of the Rio Olympics and an anti-doping campaign in the sport.

The Olympic velodrome is the most delayed Rio Olympic venue, being provided from Rio city government to Rio organizers only six weeks before the start of Olympics. Cookson expressed serious concerns about the delays several times before.

“It’s not a secret that we were very worried about the venue before the Olympics. Lots of effort had been put into that. The people of Rio and Brazil finally live up to their promise,” said Cookson.

“The mayor of Rio was involved particularly, making the velodrome project to a success. They changed the contractors, arranged new project manager, and the building was completed to everyone’s expectations.”

China claimed its first cycling Olympic gold after Gong Jinjie and Zhong Tianshi won the women’s team sprint at the Olympic Velodrome last month.

Cookson said it’s great to see China getting stronger and stronger every year, adding the golden results at the Olympics will promote more and more Chinese cyclists to have great success.

“China can become the most successful nation in cycling very quickly. This trend will continue,” he said.

In the past, Chinese people used bikes only as a means of transportation. But Cookson pointed out that cycling as a sport has enjoyed rapid development in China.

“There is a strong culture of cycling and some very successful events are already being held in China. We have seen more and more Chinese people riding bikes for fitness, health and competition. If young people get the opportunity and start to participate in the event, Chinese cycling will have more success.”

As cycling is developing fast in China, around 100 cycling tournaments are held in the country every year, providing more opportunities for Chinese cyclists to compete against each other and cyclists from around the world.

But Cookson suggested that it is important for China to combine the competition resources together, and have one tournament better and larger than the country’s others. The International Cycling Union is happy to work with people in China to make sure that happens, he said.

Cookson has been working to clean up the sport haunted by doping for years, including Lance Armstrong’s admission of guilt a few years ago.

He said cycling has been leading for many years in the fight against doping in sport.

“We do a lot of work in anti-doping, working very closely with international and national (regional) anti-doping agencies. We had problems in cycling with doping. But I think the situation is much better now,” Cookson said.

“All of the sports are facing (doping) problems we had in the past. If you don’t take it seriously, then it will cause trouble in your sports.”

–IANS

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