Letter from Edinburgh 22.08.08

CYCLIST Chris Hoy is the hero of the hour. The country’s triple Olym­pic champion is encouraging young and old to get on their bikes and take to the road.

There are various madcap sche­mes to convert silage sheds into velodromes but that may not come to pass. But the proposal to name the Glasgow velodrome for the 2014 Commonwealth Games after Chris Hoy is right.

As Olympic flags are raised this weekend in Unst and Lerwick as part of the handover from Beijing to London 2012, there is a good deal of excitement about what Team GB has achieved in China. Our First Mini­ster even called for Chris Hoy to become King of Scotland!

I listened to a radio discussion the other morning about the range of sports that are now Olympic. Now I am not knocking beach volleyball or synchronised swim­ming. Quite whether they are Olympic sports is a matter of hot debate. Apparently you have to hold your breath for a minute under water and then come up for air not looking like you are about to expire. That if nothing else takes lungs of consider­able strength and iron-willed discipline.

But the types of sporting dis­cipline change. Hoy explained after winning his third gold that this pursuit event hadn’t been in previous games and it was a new one to him. It was fantastic to watch. So if the judgment is what makes sport excit­ing and encourages people to be more active in their lives, then it passes.

My mountain biking friends are arguing that their sport should be included. Earlier in the year I was at Fort William and walked down a section of the world class track that runs down the mountain below the cable car at Aonach Mor. It is very steep but makes fantastic entertainment.

I would argue that this is the time to invest in coaching, encouragement and facilities for the future. Shet­land’s hockey players have a very strong argument for a new pitch. With our climate, putting aside the splendid summer we are having in contrast to the rest of the country, I have always wondered about the potential to build a big agricultural shed over such pitches.

If David Beckam’s football academy in London can be covered and such buildings are widespread across Scandinavia, maybe we should explore the options here as well. It wouldn’t need heating so would save on energy bills, and a wind turbine or solar panels could power the lighting. I would love to see Shetland represented at these games in the future.

I close with a response to the outrageous comment in last week’s Off the Spike about my footballing skills or rather lack of them. Yes I couldn’t play in this year’s parlia­mentary football challenge. But I have, in the past, been shouted at by Kenny Dalglish to stop poaching and get back and defend. Looking forward to next year and more of the same.

Tavish Scott MSP


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