BMX bikers have had their first taste of Telford’s new £250,000 national standard track, which is expected to bring hundreds of riders into the town.
The track, in Dawley, is part of the redevelopment of the Phoenix Academy, which now has national and regional standard facilities for a number of sports.
The 390 metre (1,279 foot ) track includes an elite section for professional riders and a development track for young children and novices.
Kieran Edwards, who is coach and chairman of Wrekin Riders BMX Club, said: “It’s taken a while to get things right but now we’re open it’s great to see young kids riding and learning new skills, it’s all come together brilliantly.
“We host the Urban Games in Telford and showed people what we did but there wasn’t anywhere really for us to practise.
“This new track opens lots of doors to BMX enthusiasts, with four local riders so far qualified for the world championships in Holland for July.”
Mr Edwards, from Donnington, was a key figure in the development of the track.
He said: “Be it coaching for schools and clubs to parents teaching children to ride from a young age, developing skills for national competitions or just riding for fun and fitness – the over-40s section is really popular – the aim is to get young kids doing something constructive and off the streets.”
Major competitions are already planned, including regional events in July and the Midlands’ Championships in September.
These events are expected to attract up to 700 competitors.
Wrekin Riders tours the country, competing at national races and giving the top competitors a shot at qualification for world championships.
The official grand opening of the track will take place later in the summer, with a top name from the world of BMX biking due to make an appearance.
Sponsorship is being sought, with plans for business banners around the track to help fund further development.
Funding co-ordinator Gareth Williams said: “There is still lots to be done. We are aiming to raise in the region of £11,000 to help with developing changing rooms, a reception area and cover for the start gate.
“We also need floodlights for the later evening sessions and we have also applied for grants to help with extra bikes and safety equipment for people to hire as we want to make is accessible to anyone who’s interested.”
Weekend sessions on Saturdays and Sundays are held between 10am and noon for novices and children, and 12pm to 4pm for competent riders.
The track, built with money from Sport England, Co-operative maintenance and Telford & Wrekin Council, is part of the new Phoenix site, which houses the Phoenix Academy, Dawley library and a sports centre.
It includes the Aspirations health and fitness suite, a third-generation artificial rugby and football pitch, a double sports hall including eight badminton courts and spectator seating.
The site is also a regional base for cycling, rugby league and table tennis, and the county hub for netball.
The sports hall has already been earmarked by England Netball as a venue for regional matches and tournaments.
For information about what is on offer to BMX riders visit Wrekin Riders’ Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wrekinriders.co.uk
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