A new £5m triathlon training base in Leeds opening this year is to be named after the city’s all-conquering Olympic heroes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.
The Brownlee Centre will sit alongside a new one mile cycle circuit, which is said to be one of the longest of its kind in the country, at the University of Leeds’s Bodington playing fields in the north of the city.
It is the UK’s first purpose-built triathlon training base and will provide the first permanent home for the world-class Leeds Triathlon Centre, where most of Britain’s Olympic triathletes train.
Officials say the site, which boasts a strength and conditioning training suite, physiotherapy, medical and other support services, will enhance facilities for both cycling and triathlon in the region.
Partnership funding from Sport England, UK Sport, British Cycling and British Triathlon is contributing £1million to the project, with the remaining funding provided by the University.
Alistair Brownlee, a former University of Leeds student who won his second Olympic gold medal in Brazil last summer, said: “This is a real honour.
We can’t wait to bring our bikes up here and try it. The track is a great addition to Yorkshire’s cycling facilities and will benefit cyclists and other sportsmen and women of all abilities.Jonny Brownlee
“Having the UK’s first purpose-built triathlon centre in Leeds will ensure that the city continues to be a hub for triathlon. It brings together the facilities top athletes need in one place to create a world class training environment.
“It is a real boost for both participation and elite sport in the area and will hopefully help the next generation of Leeds athletes on their journey to Olympic success”
His brother Jonny, who took silver in August, added: “We can’t wait to bring our bikes up here and try it. The track is a great addition to Yorkshire’s cycling facilities and will benefit cyclists and other sportsmen and women of all abilities.
“We’re both really pleased to continue our relationship with the University and I hope that what we’ve achieved can inspire everyone who uses the facilities to try their hardest, whether it’s in competitive sport or in building confidence on two wheels.”
Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands said: “The University is extremely proud of Alistair and Jonny’s achievements and it is fitting that this unique world-class facility, which will inspire thousands of people to be more active, is to be named after two of our most successful sportsmen.
“Our graduates have dominated top level triathlon and cycling at various events, an achievement which everyone in Leeds can be proud of. Opening The Brownlee Centre and new cycle circuit reinforces our vision of becoming the number one provider of higher education sport and physical activity experience in the UK.”
At last year’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games, all three of the men’s triathlon team were Leeds alumni, with Gordon Benson joining the medal-winning Brownlee brothers.
Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at the University, said: “We’re really pleased to acknowledge the fantastic sporting success of the Brownlees in such a practical, permanent way.
“We are so proud of Alistair and Jonny and of their continuing relationship with the University – from regular training at our facilities, to the inspiration they provide students, staff and members of the public alike with their achievements.
“We are also pleased to have played a part in their success by providing excellent training facilities and by tailoring their degrees to allow time to prepare and compete.
“The facility they are putting their name to represents a success story for cycling and triathlon in Leeds and beyond. It will ensure athletes of all abilities have some of the best facilities in the UK available close to home.”
The six metre-wide cycle circuit will provide a traffic-free environment for cyclists of all ages and abilities, including university students, staff and the wider community, for recreation, coaching and competition.
Jonny Clay, British Cycling’s Director of Cycling, said: “Leeds – and the wider West Yorkshire region – has produced countless successful elite sportspeople over the years, and one of British Cycling’s key aims has always been to ensure that elite success translates into mass participation, and that those inspired by Britain’s finest cyclists have high quality facilities at which to develop their own skills and confidence on a bike.
“This new cycle circuit will deliver exactly that for the people of Leeds, and we look forward to seeing locals, regardless of age, ability or previous level of experience on a bike, take advantage of the facility once it is open.”