Sir Chris Hoy calls for better safety measures after Commonwealth Games crash

Three riders were hospitalised yesterday after a horrific crash at Lee Valley VeloPark

Matt Walls
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Chris Hoy has called for better safety measures in velodromes after the horror crash at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday which saw riders and spectators injured.

Matt Walls of Team England and the Isle of Man’s Matt Bostock were both hospitalised after the incident. As a result of the huge crash, the morning session of track cycling at the Lee Valley VeloPark was subsequently suspended. 

Canada’s Derek Gee also required hospital treatment in the aftermath of the crash. 

Yesterday evening, both Walls and Bostock confirmed via social media that they both fortunately escaped with just minor injuries, however the high-speed incident led to other riders condemning the safety precautions that had been in place. 

Hoy, the former Olympic, Commonwealth and World champion on the track, told BBC Sport that he believes plexiglass screens installed around the barriers of velodromes would be one way to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. 

Hoy said: “This was a direct result of not having some form of barrier at the top of the fencing. It might seem strange that there is nothing to stop riders going over the fence. It's very rare for it to happen but it has over the years - maybe half a dozen times over 20 years.

“Personally I think it's preventable if you put a plexiglass screen around like they do in ice hockey. Look at motorsport and its catch fencing and the lengths they go to protect the crowd and also the athletes.” 

After swerving at speed to avoid multiple other riders who had crashed, Olympic champion Walls, was catapulted over the barriers at the top of the track and into the crowd. As well as the cyclists involved, several spectators required treatment for minor injuries: a man received treatment for cuts to his arm while a young girl also received minor attention.  

Five-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny, who is also competing at the games, revealed to The Guardian after the incident that she had been sufficiently shaken up by the crash that she debated withdrawing from competition in the points race. 

Kenny said: “It was horrendous, it was playing on my mind earlier, I messaged Jason [Kenny] and said ‘I’m not sure I even want to do this.’ It just puts everything into perspective when something like that happens. I’m just glad he was conscious straight away because Joe’s [Truman’s] crash was enough.”

Kenny also echoed Hoy’s comments on safety. As well as calling for more sufficient barriers to be introduced, Kenny said that extreme positions on the bike are another issue that needs to be addressed. 

She said: “I think the crashes are getting worse and it’s because the speeds are getting higher, the positions are getting more extreme, some of the pursuit positions people are getting in, you see people crashing into the back of people.” 

Kenny said that she had seen riders go over the top of barriers in velodromes before. Witnesses in the Lee Valley VeloPark yesterday morning said that due to the steep banking of the track, the injured spectators were unsighted when Walls sped towards them meaning they had no time to move out of the way. 

Kenny added: “Maybe there should be screens because Matt should not have been able to go over the top and into the crowd – that’s pretty damn dangerous. It’s the third time now I’ve been in a velodrome and witnessed someone go over the top. 

"Matt was laughing and making jokes with the paramedics which is brilliant to hear but if he’d [not gone over] he would have done less damage and certainly done less damage to the little girl.”

The incident on Sunday morning was the second high-speed crash that had occurred at this year's Commonwealth Games. Joe Truman of Team England broke his collarbone during Keirin qualifying on Saturday, with the 25-year-old knocked unconscious in the incident. He left the velodrome in a wheelchair.

Hoy concluded that an urgent review needs to be carried out by the relevant governing bodies and that questions need to be asked on how to improve safety measures. 

“All you can do is learn from mistakes and think: How can we make the velodrome safer for athletes and spectators? I hope the people in power look at this and think something really has to be done before something genuinely serious happens in the future.” 

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