Re­build­ing a theatre of dreams

Cycling Weekly - - MENTOR -

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...

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