London Mayor Boris Johnson mounts BMX stunt in Olympics legacy bid
15:04 14 July 2011
Balancing uncertainly astride a BMX stunt bike at the top of a steep slope, London Mayor Boris Johnson this morning unveiled a multi-million pound deal for grassroots sport to ensure the Olympics legacy itself does not slide downhill and crash after 2012.
A BMX course in Walthamstow was the location, where the ramps had been completed just the evening before by volunteers in a deprived part of east London without many custom-built facilties for youngsters to play in.
There was to be no crash by bicycle-fan Mayor Boris for the mass ranks of snappers at the event, as he heaved the bike and his bulk safely, if unspectacularly, over two sets of ramps.
Unfortunately for Kate Hoey, the Mayor’s commissioner for sport, she toiled heavily on her bike to reach the summit of just one mound.
Speaking within the Labour-controlled borough of Waltham Forest, Mayor Johnson was quick to hail how valuable sport is. He also issued a warning to councils earmarking leisure venues for closure as part of Town Hall belt-tightening austerity measures.
“This is something that is incredibly important,” said Mayor Johnson. “I want it to be a boost for young people in London. I have been looking at the issue of obesity and we have a serious problem in this city, so the more that happens to tackle it, the better.
“London has also high rates of child poverty and high rates of unemployment. Sport is valuable.
If it’s true as they’ve been telling me that lots of kids came out here last night and started playing, then that’s a fantastic thought.”
“I don’t want local councils to take what we’re doing as an excuse to cut back their own funding.”
Walthamstow cycling coach Mike Beasant is someone to whom Mrs Hoey could go for lessons to boost her bike power. He explained to London24.com exactly what the all-new BMX pan means for youngsters of the Highams Park Coaching Centre.
“The Olympic pathway starts here and goes into the future. If we spot people we can progress them through and refer them on; through the Go Ride group, I can nominate bikers to UK cycling talent team. It hasn’t happened in this are there has not been a club in this area to do that.”
But creating the next crop of super-fit athletes is not the whole purpose, he insisted.
“Bike riding gives you confidence. BMX is a technical sport, so the more complex it gets the more confidence you gain. Teenage testosterone might make some kids feel overly confident with tricks, but the bike will level that out because you fall off. But you gain confidence and enthusiasm and they apply in all areas of life.
Walthamstow’s BMX course is one of 26 community sports projects and 14 big projects, designed to help seal the legacy of the 2012 Olympics.
Costing more than £12m and matched by the same figure from businesses and charity, the scheme includes micro-grants of up to £1,500 for small community groups.