Olympic triathlete Jonny Brownlee described Leeds as the “best triathlon city in the whole world” today as he officially opened a new £5m elite training centre and cycle circuit named in his honour.
Officials behind the new £5m Brownlee Centre, and a mile-long cycle track next to it in on University of Leeds land in Adel, say it will benefit everyone from beginners to elite athletes.
Eight months after claiming gold and silver in the Rio Olympics, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee opened the facility, which will become the training base for the elite performance centre based in Leeds.
The UK’s first purpose-built triathlon training base, it will combine a strength and conditioning training suite, physiotherapy, medical and other support services, to provide world-class facilities to enhance triathlon training in the region.
It looks out into a closed road cycle track which is one of the longest in the country and will offer cyclists of all abilities the chance to train in a traffic-free environment.
City cycling clubs are already chomping at the bit to use the site, and there is a full programme of activity including ‘pay and pedal’ sessions and HSBC Breeze Rides for women and girls.
I don’t think either of us are quite sure what you are supposed to say when you are opening a building that’s named after yourself.Alistair Brownlee
Bikes for children and adults are available to hire, along with hand cycles, trikes and tandems for use by riders with disabilities.
Opening the centre yesterday, Jonny Brownlee said: “This really caps off Leeds as a triathlon city – I’ve been telling everyone for years that Leeds is a good triathlon city and finally people are starting to listen.
“Right from the bottom of our Foundation trying to get kids involved in sport, all the way through the Yorkshire Regional Talent Academy to the universities to the Leeds world series and this facility.
“It really truly is the best triathlon city in the whole world now – not just the best city in the world. It’s what we’re all about in this sport, we’re literally going to be using this facility at the same time as young kids. Hopefully we can inspire many more kids in the future to take up sport.”
His brother Alistair, a double Olympic gold medal winner, said: “I don’t think either of us are quite sure what you are supposed to say when you are opening a building that’s named after yourself.
“Thank you very much – it is, obviously a massive honour, and it’s been an absolute privilege to see this building come up from the ground in a site that obviously means so much to both of us – it feels that we’ve run around here hundreds of times. Actually, most importantly, I think I won a Yorkshire cross-country title here when I was 12.
“So lots of very happy memories here. But it’s not just about us or elite sport or about triathlon. I think that’s one of the fantastic things about sport – it’s about using sport to empower and encourage people in a safe environment.
“I look forward to using it a lot, but perhaps more than that I look forward to seeing loads of other people using it for the first time for many years to come. I hope you all get to enjoy it at some point.”