Date: Friday, 23 March 2012
Posted by: Cycling Southland

The Southland Times Editorial

You would struggle to script this any better: a few dedicated and passionate cycling people dreamed one day about the possibility of having an indoor velodrome in Invercargill.

The dreams grew to discussions and from there those holding the reins of Invercargill city saw the merit in the idea and backed the venture.

In May 2006 a world-class velodrome was built and the city became the first in New Zealand to have one - and to this day remains the only city to have one.

Six years on Invercargill is set to reap the rewards, with the junior World Championships in Invercargill expected to bring about 1000 people to the city for the August event.

The World Junior Championships has been touted as bringing over $3 million into the local economy, and that alone makes the Velodrome a valuable asset. But it is more than dollars and cents that Southlanders get out of an indoor velodrome, and a New Zealand team announcement this week highlighted that.

BikeNZ revealed its squad of 16 riders to compete at the 2012 World Championships in Invercargill, and five of them are from the Cycling Southland stable.

The fact a city the size of Invercargill was allocated the hosting rights to an event the magnitude of the Junior World Championships is enough to have Southlanders puffing their chest out with pride.

But add to this that five southerners are now set to compete in a world event in front of their family and friends on their own track makes this story almost too good to be true.

Those that saw an opening in the New Zealand sporting market and took the bold leap into building a multimillion-dollar complex in Invercargill would have struggled to dream up just what would unfold in its first six years of existence.

It does not get much better than what we are going to get in August.

Invercargill undoubtedly is the capital of New Zealand cycling; having the only indoor velodrome by default gives the city that tag. But what now rubber-stamps Southland as the home of cycling is what is being produced here in the form of our cyclists.

The Velodrome has taken most of the credit for that development success since it opened in 2006, which is warranted. However, it would be wrong to put everything down to that.

World class athletes don't just appear simply by building a flash new facility. There is more needed in the formula than just a building.

Cycling probably has the best volunteer group of any sport in Southland, whether it be from those coaching youngsters to those running events.

Cycling Southland has at its disposal a building that a lot of professional sports would dream about, but despite all the glitz and glamour of that, the Southland cycling fraternity has largely remained as attached as possible to their amateur roots.

The chief executive, Nick Jeffrey, highlights this regularly - he constantly alludes to Cycling Southland as a club rather than giving the organisation a glorified name.

You won't find a whole heap of people trying to jump on the gravy train in cycling circles in Southland. The hard work and hours of sweat and emotional time they pour into cycling is for the sport alone, rather than chasing any other reward.

Yes, the Velodrome has played a huge role in the development of Southland's cyclists, but no-one should lose sight of the coaches, managers, parents and everyday helpers - they have pushed it to the point where the sport is having so much success.

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