MBR — I guess you’ve had a chance to tour all the venues here in Beijing now — does that make you feel a little apprehensive when you consider that we’re barely our of the ground in construction terms and have got a hell of a show to follow?
SC — Not at all. I’m confident that we can build the facilities that the athletes deserve for the 15-plus years of slog that’s taken many of them to get there. We’re looking to give the athletes the best circumstances and chances we possible can.
MBR — But these Beijing venues are a bit special…
SC — Absolutely. The planning’s been meticulous and you’ve got to say that these guys have nailed it.
MBR — You’ve been widely quoted about the need for an Olympics to have ‘big moments’, so what have been your picks here so far?
SC — Well do you mean British or non-British?
MBR — Let’s start with British.
SC — Well you’ve got to look at this [points around velodrome], it’s just extraordinary. Obviously the cycling guys are so at the top of their games, not just the riders, but the coaches and administrators too. Pretty much everyone I speak to asks that same thing: what the hell are you guys doing in cycling? In fact it’s often combined with: what are you doing in cycling that you’re not doing in track and field?
However if you take it out of a British context there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that the biggest moment was Bolt’s win in the 100m sprint. And if he hadn’t treated the last 30 metres like a cabaret he could keep rewriting that record book for a long while.
MBR — Now the announcement was made just two days after these games had started that Hadleigh Castle in Essex had been approved as the 2012 mountain bike venue. Both the timing of this announcement and the choice of venue itself have been widely criticised — and bearing in mind that we were told by the Locog press office that no decision was to be made until September — what exactly was the timeline for events after the UCI’s decision to drop Weald Park earlier this year?
SC — The UCI, like us, recognises that mountain biking’s an emerging sport and we’re absolutely convinced that both nationally and internationally we will develop a world class venue at Hadleigh. It’s really that simple.
MBR — You’ve always maintained this need for a ‘compact venue’ but in recent months various well-known UK mtb sites, all with excellent infrastructure and connections to the sport — Margam Park and Afan valley in south Wales, Dalby Forest in Yorkshire and Penshurst (PORC) in Kent — have approached Locog about hosting the 2012 event and questions were even tabled in the House of Commons, so were all these other options simply dismissed purely due to their location?
SC — When Weald Park was taken off the agenda by the UCI, we discussed it with all our partners and the international federation and they were still very keen to have a mountain bike venue that, while further away from the main Olympic hub than the original choice [Weald Park], was still within ‘touching distance’. That was the commitment we gave them and that’s what we did – I feel we’ve met our international obligations.
MBR — Is it true you do a bit of mountain biking yourself?
SC — Yes, it’s fair to say that I’ve been known to ride an mtb.
MBR — So when the 2012 course is finalised and in decent shape would you be up for a ride with the MBR team?
SC — I’d love to. I’ll get the Cannondale dusted down and ready.