Olympic legacy will bring cycling to Rutland schools

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Rutland is poised to become the first in the region to introduce annual cycling fixtures for primary schools.

In the next academic year pupils from the county’s 17 schools will have the opportunity to take part in eight fixtures.

Chris Thomas, Rutland’s school sports network manager said: “The idea is to offer a new activity and sport for children in the county.

“Hopefully, in a few years time we will have a Tour de France competitor from Rutland.”

Mr Thomas said while recreational cycling helped youngsters to be active and healthy competitive cycling would add to the number of competitive sporting activities that schools can offer children.

Between six and eight competitions are planned in the coming school year.

Teams from 24 schools - Rutland schools and four Leicester schools within the local education authority catchment - will be invited to grounds of Rutland Roleur Club, in Manton, where they will compete against each other.

Initially the fixtures will be aimed at primary schools, but Mr Thomas said there were plans to extend it to secondary schools.

The project to set up the fixtures - dates are yet to be decided - started at the beginning of the Easter Term.

As a precursor, a mini competition was held last month at Edith Weston Primary, in Oakham, when three schools participated in cycling competitions.

Prior to the competition pupils were given five week’s training in techniques such as handling and controlling a bike and safe riding, aimed at improving their skills and boosting confidence.

The Primary Schools Cycling Competition fixtures are part of a programme of bringing more games and sports into schools to build on the 2012 London Olympics legacy.

Mr Thomas said the enthusiasm shown by pupils who seemed to love it and “wanted to get involved” had been very encouraging.

Jo Appleton, School leader and PE coordinator at Edith Weston Primary said: “Judging by how keen pupils were to take part in the mini competition, to give them the opportunity to compete more often will be fantastic.

“It’s such a great sport and it will add to the range of individual and team sports categories that they can take part in.”

A spokesman for British Cycling - national governing body for encouraging cycling - said they work to get more people to bike to school and work or for leisure.

A spokesman said: “If kids start young they are more likely to continue with the sport when they are older, even if it is only for recreation, as they will have learned how to handle bikes properly through the competitions.”