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Next generation of Island track cycling stars competing at Canadian junior championships

1994 Commonwealth Games velodrome in Colwood keeps churning out national and international cyclists

It is outdoors and concrete and from another era. Yet, three decades on, the 1994 Commonwealth Games velodrome in Colwood keeps churning out national and international cyclists thanks to the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association.

The latest generation is competing this weekend in the Canadian junior track cycling championship in Bromont, Que.

This summer, Victoria cyclists Sarah Van Dam and Erin Attwell are favoured to be on the Canadian women’s pursuit team competing at the 2024 Olympic velodrome in Paris, as is Mel Pemble in the Paris Paralympics.

They would follow in the pedal straps of Tokyo Olympics track cyclist and 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Jay Lamoureux, 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Gillian Carleton and 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games gold medallist Evan Carey, all products of the Colwood facility in Colwood.

The Islanders competing in Bromont consist of Xavier Kelley, Mateus Dodd, Kim Wang, Lindsey Cameron, Tendo Mukahanana, Oscar Wong, Kimberly Chen and Tristan Drews.

Six are from the Victoria Tripleshot Club, which has produced 11 senior national team cyclists over the years.

“The [Colwood] velodrome has been a big part of the development of all these track cyclists from the Island. That’s where they got their starts,” said Tripleshot head coach Lister Farrar, whose success also extends to the road with current European pro cyclists such as Van Dam and Commonwealth Games veteran Riley Pickrell out of Tripleshot.

“We have worked really hard to provide space for athletes to ride and train on the [Colwood] track. And the alumni give back by returning to the track and helping to coach.”

But age and time are kind to so few things and that includes velodromes. The Colwood facility now lags far behind Canada’s two main velodromes, both indoor, hardwood tracks — the 2015 Pan Am Games Velodrome in Milton, Ont., and the multi-sport, Centre National de Cyclisme Vélodrome de Bromont in Quebec.

The latter, which is hosting the national junior championships, replaced an old concrete outdoor track that was much like the one in Colwood. The $22-million Quebec facility, built on the 1996 Olympic velodrome structure bought and moved from Atlanta, opened in 2022 and is multi-sport with an adjacent indoor pump track and attached gymnasium for court sports.

A similar velodrome and attached multi-sport facility is being built in Edmonton. A new indoor velodrome has been talked about for years in Greater Victoria, but with little movement made so far.

The only velodromes in B.C. are in Colwood and an indoor facility in Burnaby, the latter featuring pickleball courts on the infield.

“The potential for multi-sport use, including pickleball courts on the infield, is huge,” Farrar said of the dream of an eventual indoor velodrome on the Lower Island.

For now, the Colwood velodrome continues to punch and pedal well beyond its weight class, all the way up to the Olympics, despite athletes not being able to train on it in the rain due to safety issues.

“We would have a lot more kids involved in track cycling if we had a roofed facility,” said Farrar.