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Olympic cyclist comes to UCLan

30 November 2012

Lyndsey Boardman

University hosts science behind cycling event for local schoolchildren

Local schoolchildren have discovered what it takes to be an Olympic Cyclist at a sports science event held at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). 

Three-time Olympic medallist and two-time World Champion cyclist Rob Hayles visited UCLan to speak to pupils from Ashton Community Science College and Fulwood Academy in Preston, Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School and St Wilfred’s C of E Academy and Our Lady & St John Catholic College in Blackburn.

The students were joined by representatives from British Cycling, BAE Systems, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, UCLan sports scientists and UCLan engineers to learn about the science of cycling.

Rob talked about his elite cycling career achievements in which he won Olympic silver and two bronzes on the track and his work in the research and development team at British Cycling.

"It’s important to inspire young people through sport, especially on the back of Great Britain’s success in the London 2012 Olympic Games, and show them the links between sporting success and science.”

The 38-year-old who retired from professional cycling in 2011 commented: “It’s amazing how much the sport has evolved over the last twenty years and this is thanks to developments in science and engineering. 

"It’s important to inspire young people through sport, especially on the back of Great Britain’s success in the London 2012 Olympic Games, and show them the links between sporting success and science.”

The schoolchildren also attended several workshops at the University exploring the role that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) research play in training and developing equipment and how this leads to success, as well as trying out some of the kit themselves.

Zachary Nixon, 15, from Fulwood Academy commented: “I enjoy several sports and it’s been interesting to find out the science behind cycling, the difference it makes and how it’s applied in real life.”

Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School pupil, 17-year-old Eleanor Bayton, said: “I’ve enjoyed learning about the rapid technological developments in the industry, testing out the bikes and seeing how quickly a design can be made into a prototype.”

Andy Kirkland, Coaching and Education Officer from British Cycling, demonstrated the static Watt bikes used by professional athletes.  He said: “These bikes are used to accurately measure the power output from a rider so we are able to show the children how the process works.  It’s a great way to capture interest in the sport at a young age.”