The International Cycling Union (UCI) called the 2008 World Cycling Track Championships, held in Manchester, the “most successful ever”. That was certainly true for the British team, which finished top of the tables with nine of the 18 gold medals on offer. The event was also an opportunity for Manchester to prove itself as an international venue, and for the sport to reach out to a wider audience than ever before. And, thanks to National Lottery funding, both city and cycling came out winners.
The event marked the launch of Manchester’s World Sport 08 campaign, a celebration of the city’s growing role in international sports. “Manchester’s been a real leading sporting city for quite a few years,” says event consultant Simon Morton. “It really made the most of the facilities left from the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and it’s a big supporter of cycling in particular.
The Manchester Velodrome is home to the British squad, and one of the fastest board tracks in the world, so it’s a real hub for the sport.” Lottery funding contributed towards the costs of venue hire, equipment and accommodation for staff, both paid and voluntary. Volunteers played an essential role in providing services such as transport and stewarding at events. Manchester’s volunteering programme is particularly strong – a legacy of the Commonwealth Games in 2002.
The event was strongly supported by the British public, with 17,000 spectators attending the five days of the competition, and many more watching television coverage. “We’ve definitely seen the nation gripped by the sport. The championships were making the front pages of newspapers, which is quite unprecedented for a sport like track cycling – and that’s very positive,” adds Simon.