New velodrome coming - JCF president: Modern 250m track could inject impetus cycling needs
When the National Stadium undergoes major repair next year, the velodrome will be removed in order to bring spectators closer to the action on the field and to also increase the capacity of the venue to 38,000.
The 500m cycle track is where Jamaica Cycling Federation (JCF) riders practise and have their development meets, but it has become an albatross as far as the development of the sport locally is concerned as its size and shape have long been outdated and no longer fit international standards.
But the cycling fraternity may not have to wait too long for a modern velodrome. Minister of Sport Olivia Grange is aggressively seeking a location at Independence Park to build a modern 250 metres velodrome.
"We are in discussion to build a new velodrome and we are pursuing it in a very aggressive manner," Grange told The Sunday Gleaner. "As you know we plan to take out the old one at the stadium now and build one at a separate location within the compound of Independence Park Limited."
President of the JCF, Joylene Griffiths, has welcomed the announcement from Minister Grange as she believes a modern 250m velodrome could inject the impetus local cycling needs in order to grow.
"The velodrome is needed because not only would it provide us with the opportunity to practise on a modern-day track, but we could also host meets and invite cyclists from around the world who could provide competitions for our riders," Griffiths said. "When Trinidad and Tobago got theirs (velodrome), it really made a big difference in the sport in Trinidad, and their performance has got better, and I believe the same can happen for us."
Griffiths is also happy that the velodrome will be separated from the National Stadium.
"The National Stadium is used for football matches and track and field meets, and many times, we would want to have a meet and we are not able to because the Stadium is just difficult to get," she said. "Now that it will be in a separate location, we can have our meets whenever we want and organise training for the riders."
According to Griffiths, a modern-day velodrome will also solve the age-old problem of cyclists not being prepared properly for events such as the Central American and Caribbean Games, the Commonwealth Games, and others.
"Because we do not have a 250m track here in Jamaica, it's only when our riders leave the island that they can get access to one and this does not happen very often because it is already difficult to get funding to go to meets so it is almost impossible for us to get funding to practise on a modern track," she explained.
The Sunday Gleaner understands that cyclists have often complained about being at a great disadvantage when they compete on the international stage as they are not prepared to compete on the 250m velodrome.