Salvation Army site to be London Olympics mountain biking venue

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) this week confirmed that the venue for the mountain biking events will be at Hadleigh Farm, Essex, land owned by The Salvation Army.

The alternative site was chosen following the decision in January 2008 to move the competition away from The Weald Country Park in Essex after a change in requirements for the sport that resulted in the need to identify a more technical and challenging course.

This venue change for the Games has been approved by the International Cycling Union (UCI), British Cycling (BC), the International Olympic Committee, and the British Olympic Association.

The new venue covers a 550 acre site situated close to the village of Hadleigh, near Benfleet in Essex. The site encompasses the outstandingly beautiful grassland and woodland of Hadleigh Farm and the surrounding countryside of Hadleigh Castle Country Park.

There are two major hill areas, separated by a valley which will create the technical climbs for the course to challenge the competitors from around the world in less than four years time. The course will be set against the stunning backdrop of the 700-year-old ruins of Hadleigh Castle.

Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG said, "It is testament to the hard work of everyone in involved that we have been able to confirm an alternative venue for the mountain biking competition only seven months after the venue change was announced.

"In Hadleigh Farm we have a world class venue for Games time with the potential for an excellent facility for elite and community use post Games."

Next steps for the London 2012 Organising Committee and Essex County Council include a four month period of detailed planning on the course layout and the temporary facilities required to host the event; securing contractual agreements between all parties; working with the local community on an engagement programme and the announcement in the autumn of the Cycling Competition Manager.

Pat McQuaid, President of UCI said, "The UCI is delighted with Hadleigh Farm and believe it will be a spectacular Mountain Biking venue for London 2012. It has a wonderful terrain and offers a unique opportunity for spectators to view the majority of the course.

"Our technical experts believe it meets all the requirements of an Olympic Mountain Biking course with a range of elevations that will provide a challenging course for competitors."

Major David Hinton, Secretary for Business Administration of The Salvation Army UK and the Republic of Ireland said, "The Salvation Army is delighted to be working with Essex County Council to create the 2012 Games Mountain Biking venue at Hadleigh Farm.

"Beyond meeting the technical requirements for the event, we are committed to working in partnership with Essex County Council, the London 2012 Organising Committee and the local community to ensure not only a great event in 2012 but also long lasting benefits for the community and the county as a whole after the Games. We look forward to being part of this exciting initiative."

Re-printed in Christian Today with the kind permission of The Salvation Army