Rebuilding a theatre of dreams
Originally built in 1958 for that year’s British Empire and Commonwealth Games, four decades on Maindy track had fallen into a state of neglect.
“The track was in danger of closure because it was underused,” explains Wharton, who was working at the leisure centre as a receptionist. “The council wanted to try and build on it but the ground was too unstable.”
The leisure centre’s boss asked Wharton, in her early 20s at the time, if she would like to try to breathe new life into the facility. She had a personal motivation, having used the track herself while training to compete in the 1990 junior Track World Championships.
“I thought, I’d love to do that because I love cycling and all the opportunities it’s given me. To be able to get kids into it, offer them the same things, take them to similar competitions, was amazing.”
Wharton relished the challenge, and — taking its name from Squid Flyers, the swimming team nextdoor — Maindy Flyers cycling club was born. The next step was finding bikes suitable for riders as young as Geraint Thomas.
“We had some very, very old track bikes that were part of the old set-up,” says Wharton, “but the smallest track bike you could get for a kid had a full-sized wheel.” Such bikes were far too big for a 10-year-old. “We had to scrape around and get old bikes and convert them into fixed-wheel track bikes so that the smaller children could have a go.”
From tiny acorns...